About

Email me here

This blog is about general biology of fungi in a New Zealand. The blogs that appear are stimulated by what I see around me, questions that I receive, what is topical in the public and scientific media, and from historical material that has been forgotten about but is worth remembering. I’ll treat this as a wiki-style blog and try my best to interlink blogs where relevant and update them as new information comes to hand.

Why I’m I writing about this blog? I worked for a number of years as a mycologist and although working in another field now still receive specimens to identify and questions from the general public and experts. Fungi are interesting and I want to promote  a better understanding of them with the wider public. Along with Don Horn we have published a general guide to Mushrooms and other fungi in New Zealand.

There is also a very good over-view of the fungi of New Zealand in the recently published New Zealand inventory of biodiversity, volume 3. There is also a chapter Phylum Basidiomycota: mushrooms, rusts, smuts and kin which has a complete list of all the species so far recorded in New Zealand. I was a co-author on both these chapter.

Another useful book is The Fungi of New Zealand, volume 1: introduction to fungi of New Zealand. This volume seeks to provide a foundation for understanding New Zealand’s fungi, including taxonomic, ecological, historical, and cultural knowledge about fungi, along with inventories of recorded species. I was a co-author on the introductory chapter.

An introduction to the diseases of forest and amenity trees was written by me and Margaret Dick from notes prepared for teaching courses on forest and amenity tree diseases for tree health surveillance staff in government and industry, and is a basic introduction. Tree health surveillance in New Zealand concentrates on exotic plantation species and in particular Pinus radiata. However, knowledge of the diseases of some amenity and native species, especially in the urban landscape, is also required as surveillance staff may be required to carry out surveys for new disease introductions. The majority of the diseases described are fungal.


44 Comments on “About”

  1. I have enjoyed looking at your blog the last few weeks, and I appreciate what you are doing. I also really like your approach. I think it is so important to educate the public about the world around them. I was wondering if you had any thoughts or insights about fungal conservation. I don’t know about New Zealand, but in the U. S. many people do not even notice fungi. I don’t feel like the kingdom is studied often. So, how can you understand how to conserve fungi if the biodiversity in an area is unknown?

    • Thank you, I sometimes feel like I am talking to myself. The approach to conservation in New Zealand is to protect the vegetation and the birds and everything else should, hopefully, follow. This is reflected in our major non-government conservation organisation The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society or generally just ‘Forest and Bird’ See http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/
      Fungi are well serviced by our government research organisation Landcare Research and their herbarium, including photos, is searchable through http://nzfungi.landcareresearch.co.nz/html/mycology.asp
      We have lots of resource but it doesn’t translate to the general public because there are no stories just identifications, lists, technical detail and edibility. What I am trying to do here is part get out what knowledge I have accumulated over the last 27 years, put the fungi into a place and time, and to put personalities in as well. When I first became interested in mushrooms there were three women who where ‘the New Zealand agaricologists’ – Greta Stevenson, Marie Taylor and Barbara Segedin. They are now all dead and although there are mycologists there really isn’t any agaricologist – not even me.
      As to not knowing the biodiversity – chip away at it. The US has some great resources so start linking your photos to name (even if you get them wrong someone sometime will correct you). And try and tell stories about the places you want to conserve. Hope that this has been of help.

      • Pleased to have found your blog, Geoff, after also appreciating your interview with Simon Morton last Saturday on Radio NZ National. Responding to the query above about fungal conservation, the International Society for Fungal Conservation (ISFC; established 2010) is progressing well with two 50-60 pp. newsletter issues, and a membership of 300 from over 50 countries. If you’d like to join, membership is currently free, and you can email me as I’m the ISFC membership secretary. Great also to see the history of observation of Amanita “Noddy Cap”.

      • Mary Hutchinson says:

        Hi Geoff, I have just found your blog which is great to see. I am interested in photographing fungi and I mainly do this in my local area particularly in the local green belt, Mt Cook Wgtn, or where ever I notice fungi. Is there a way I can upload photos of fungi so that I can ask what they are please? Thanks, Mary Hutchinson

      • Hi Mary, thanks. I am glad you find it interesting. I will send you my email address.

        Regards
        Geoff

  2. Mike Burtenshaw says:

    Can anyone confirm that the fungi in this photo is in fact Auricularia cornea? I can recognise it growing on dead logs but these are growing (rapidly)on wood chip mulch here in the Hutt Valley late August. It has been a wet month. Now I can’t work out how to insert a photo (can anyone help with how to upload a photo?). It looks like Auricularia cornea but is regularly circular, gelatenous, transparent light brown like a bowl sitting on the mulch. I’ll reactivate my facebook page and place some photos there but I would loved to be able to post them here. It’s great to find this site.

    • Hi Mike

      A few names have been applied to Auricularia collections in New Zealand however, it is generally thought that most, if not all, are A. cornea. Collection with other names are old identifcations and have never been re-evaluated. Auricularia should be subjected to a world wide analysis using some molecular as well as morphological characters as I am sure we would see lots of name changes and lots of new names.

  3. Mike Burtenshaw says:

    Thanks for your prompt response. I was wondering if it might be related species. Morphologically it appears different to the Jew’s Ear that I know. I presume it would have the same eatibility.

  4. WILD NOTTINGHAM says:

    Great blog!

    • Glad you enjoy it.

  5. Robin Corney says:

    Thank you so much for the information and stunning images on this blog. My huge old birch tree has a bumper crop of fungi spread beneath it this autumn. As well as the three usual species, there is a fourth this year, which I don’t remember seeing in my garden before. Such abundance finally drove me to search for some information on the fungi associated with birch trees. From your site, I think the dominant species on my mossy/shady lawn are the birch bollete and the ugly milk cap (love that common name). Will keep on looking, now I’ve got this far hooked.

    • Thanks for that Robin and I am glad that the site is of use. Please feel free to send me stuff as I am always looking for New Zealand material to blog about and I don’t gety out as much as I would like.

  6. Genelle Simoes says:

    Hiya, I’m a keen forager, and would really love to find and educate myself on edibile mushrooms, do you know if anyone (you?) do any sort of information sessions? I went to a fungi walk in Otari Wilton bush last year, and it was amazing! but I’d love to see some more.

    On a side note, there’s a huge flush of mushrooms just outside the Michael Fowler centre under one of the pohutakawa trees, wondering if those were edible? I can email you a photo, if you’re not from Wellington..
    Cheers,Genelle.

    • Hi Genelle

      Thanks for the message. I can help you a bit with the edibles although I tend to be cautious about eating things. The Otari Wilton Bush walk you mention was me and you can see the fungi here:
      https://sporesmouldsandfungi.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/otari-wiltons-bush-fungal-foray-2012/

      I have just been down to see the mushrooms you mentioned. The large white and brown shaggy ones are Chlorophyllum (Macrolepiota) rhacodes and the smaller dark ones are a species of Agaricus. Chlorophyllum rhacodes is regularly eaten as are species of Agaricus (the mushrooms in the supermarket are a species of Agaricus). I’ll blog more about them in a day or two.

      • Genelle Simoes says:

        Awesome, so they’re both edible??

        See comments at at The Postman rings again ….Geoff

  7. Kathryn Mercer says:

    Hi

    Really enjoy your blog, thank you.

    A lot of older kiwis who grew up in the country that I talk to remember harvesting field mushrooms the size of dinner plates quite regularly in season. I get the impression the quantity and size of field mushrooms has decreased – do you know if there is any evidence for/against this? (Am I just not looking in right places/talking to the right people?) If there has been a reduction, do we know why?

    Like Genelle I have found it hard to find information sessions and/or experienced people to go looking at fungi with so I can learn more – books are helpful but… As far as I am aware, I’d need to do a botany course or go on one of the annual fungal forays. Do you have any other suggestions, eg any sessions planned in the Waikato?

    Found a host of tiny white fungi on the bark of one of my feijoas today: could I send you a photo?

    Cheers, Kathryn

    • Hi Kathryn

      Thank you for your comments. It is possible that the size of flushes of field mushrooms has declined but there is no quantitative data that I am aware of. Some of that decline could be as a result of changing farming practices and land usage. It may be as simple as the type of land use that used to occur on the out skirts of towns and cities so the nutrients that use to go in to those paddocks and that supported these flushes no longer does.

      The other possibility is that soils are evolving. I read recently New Zealand soils being described as forest soils with the forest removed and a foreign pasture system laid over the top. These soils where rich in forest organic matter that may have support big flushes of mushrooms. However this organic matter is being depleted and replaced by pasture derived organic matter and a pasture soil structure. This change from one soil type to another may be reflected fungal fruiting. All speculation of course.

      I am not aware of any fungal groups in the Waikato but there is one in Auckland, the Auckland Fungus Group, and it might be worth your while contacting them at http://hiddenforest.co.nz/afg/index.htm

      • Kathryn Mercer says:

        Hi

        Thank you for this, very interesting speculation.

        Serendipitously I heard this morning that the Waikato Branch of the NZ Tree Crops Association is running a field day visiting a Raglan fungi enthusiast, Lennart (Lenny) Prinz next month.

        Cheers

        Kathryn

        _____

      • Hype O'Thermia says:

        There were big and “button” mushrooms in Central Otago.. As a child I didn’t like the taste of mushrooms at all, though I loved collecting them, getting my eye in so I saw them and wasn’t misled by white stones. The big mushrooms were not favoured by my parents who thought them coarse. We only picked them if they were VERY young and dewy-fresh with their edges still partly tucked under, and there were hardly any buttons. We called the big ones horse mushrooms.

      • In response to Hype O’Thermia – It is always great to hear about peoples personal experiences because fungi don’t really feature in our culture.
        Cheers
        Geoff

  8. Lesley Wise says:

    Hello Geoff – I am a recent convert to mushroom foraying? initiated by finding masses of Coprinus comatus on the banks of the Wanganui River. I also found what I think is Lactarius turpis under birch planted along our street in Wanganui. Is it often found in the North Island. I can send a photo if you like.
    Regards, Lesley.

    • Hi Lesley, great to hear that you have been converted. You obviously found my blog with a picture of Lactarius turpis. It is easly recognised by its mottled black colouration, an by bleeding white sap when cut, and by the vivid puple reaction when a drop of ammonia is put on the cap surface.

      The most northerly collection that I know of is from Tongariro in the central North Island. Please do send me a photo to ridley.geoff at gmail.com

      Regards
      Geoff

  9. throve says:

    Stumbled onto your blog while I was looking for mushrooms to grow to eat. A great blog. Can I suggest adding a search widget so we can navigate easier.
    I want to grow shitake mushrooms and was looking for best suited logs for the dowels.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have added the widget but I don’t find it of much use. To search my blogs I use Google. I search on ‘sporesmouldsandfungi’ plus the word of interest, e.g. sporesmouldsandfungi edible or sporesmouldsandfungi Amanita

      I suspect I would have to ‘Go Premium’ to get the fully functional search option.

      Cheers
      Geoff

      • throve says:

        Perfect thank you! The search widget is very helpful.
        I love mushrooms. Your mushroom photos reminds me of a trip with university to collect samples and try to identify them. It was a lot of fun. A nice nostalgic moment. Thank you for that.
        I feel nervous to gather my own to eat but they are nice to look at in their natural habitat.

      • Well I have just learnt something new. If you look at the extreme right end of the black WordPress bar at the top of the page there is a magnifying glass icon. If you clock on icon it will take you to a search option that searches my blogs. Who would have thought?

        Cheers
        Geoff

  10. Dora Yip says:

    Dear Geoff

    My name is Dora and my family and I have just moved from Singapore to Dunedin. My six year old son, Jordan, discovered the first edition of your Mushrooms and Other Fungi of New Zealand book at the Dunedin Public Library. He was absolutely enthralled by it, and requested it from Santa for his Christmas present (when he met him at a Dunedin museum). Santa said it was the “rarest request” he’d ever had!

    Jordan is now the proud owner of the second edition of the book, and in the month that he’s owned it, it has been really well-thumbed through. It accompanies him in on all his forest walks.

    Jordy came up with idea last week to do a series of short documentaries on mushrooms and fungi and other natural phenomenon, and just today, we made a video of his book review of your book!

    Here is the link to the book review on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aixG9KOyGA

    He also did a short video about why he loves fungi in general (titled “Jordan’s Spectacular Fungi Finds”, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyF_3do1y8o

    We really hope you like the videos 🙂 Thank you so much for providing so much enjoyment for Jordy. He also has one question for you, which is “How do I become a mycologist?”

    We would love to correspond with you if you have the time!

    Best regards from Dunedin,

    Dora Yip (and Jordan Turner)

    • Hi Jordan and Dora
      Thank you for the wonderful review of Don’s and my book. Don would have just loved it but unfortunately he died last year. The thing that we both wanted out of the book was to inspire people to look at what is around them and also to inspire a new generation of mycologists. This blog is particularly aimed at putting fungi in a New Zealand context with New Zealand stories. Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions.
      Again I just think both of your videos are wonderful
      Regards
      Geoff

      • If you have no objection I will put links to your videos in a blog in the next few weeks.
        Cheers
        Geoff

      • Dora says:

        Thanks so much for your reply! Well, we definitely have an aspiring mycologist in Jordy so here’s to the next generation of fungi-foragers 🙂 And no objection at all to the links being included in your blog. In fact, we’d be thrilled! So glad to be in touch.

  11. Anna Browne says:

    Hi Geoff,
    Thanks for the informative website. It’s helped us to identify the amazing fungi that’s appeared on our property at Piha. It’s a Noddy’s Cap. I can email an image to you if you like.
    Kind regards,
    Anna

    • Hi Anna, it is an amazing mushroom and yes would love to see the picture. Cheers
      Geoff
      ridley.geoff@gmail.com

  12. Tom says:

    Hi Geoff
    Will you join us for the Fungal Foray next month? https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fungal-Network-of-New-Zealand/107477229300343?fref=ts
    Best regards
    Tom Davies

    • Hi Tom. Thanks for the invitation but I am flying back into Wellington from Canada on the Sunday, giving a talk on mushrooms at Zealandia on Tuesday so could only make a day or two. Will see how it goes. Cheers
      Geoff

  13. Dora Yip says:

    Hi Geoff

    Just thought I’d send you Jordan’s latest fungi documentary about revolute inkcaps! He was very excited when he spotted them in Woodhaugh Gardens in Dunedin, as he read in your book that they are delicate and only last for a while. Hope all’s well with you!

    Cheers,
    Dora

    • Hi Jordan and Dora, another great youtube clip and I am very impressed by your mycological skills. Sunday was annual fungal foray at Otari but the weather has been dryish so was not a great day for finding mushrooms. However, it has absolutely bucketed down since then so suddenly there is a lot more mushrooms around. I have not forgotten your question about becoming a mycologist and will pull some information together very soon.
      Cheers
      Geoff

  14. Lisa Bennett says:

    Hi Geoff,
    I really enjoy reading your blog – it has made me much more aware of fungi, especially at this time of year! I was wondering if you were aware of or active on naturewatch.org.nz? I know the community on there would love and appreciate your expertise!
    Regards,
    Lisa

  15. Philippa Cherrill says:

    Hi,
    I am doing an ecology major at Massey university. I have an assignment where I have to collect nz fungi and document them. I collected fungi and took pictures and spore prints of them.
    I was wondering if I would be able to send you some pictures and see if you could identify them for me?
    Thank you so much,
    Philippa

    • Hi Phillippa, happy to have a look.

  16. Jackie says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog! I appreciate it very much. 🙂

  17. Jude says:

    I’m so glad you put a like on my blog, which led me to yours. I’m a complete novice with regard to the study of fungi and have actually been drawn into it through photography. We live in an isolated spot in woodland in Southern France and there are so many different mushrooms here. I’ve created my blog as a way of keeping a record of my finds. I’ll be following your blog in the hopes to improve my knowledge, although I’m sure N.Z will have many species different from France.

  18. Jude says:

    I forgot to say thank you for the follow on my blog!

  19. David Whyte says:

    Stumbled across your blog today. Enjoying it! Own a copy of your little fungi book, which got me interested. Finally starting to get my head around fungi. Do you do much on naturewatch.org.nz ? Found it very helpful in learning about fungi!

    • I try to put things up on Nature Watch but struggle to find the time.


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