In preparation for the Fungal Foray at Otari Wilton’s Bush next weekend Rachel and I went and had a look to see what was fruiting. It has been a dry summer and autumn in Wellington so I wasn’t expecting to see much, so was surprised at what we did find.
Scarlet roundhead [Leratiomyces ceres = Stropharia aurantiaca]. A wood decay fungus growing on mulch in the gardens below the Cockayne lawn.The common scabbarb [Volvariella gloiocephalus]. This was also growing in the wood chip mulch in the gardens below the Cockayne lawn.
These two mushrooms were growing in the leaf litter in the Fernery under puriri [Vitex lucens] and wheki-ponga [Dicksonia fibrosa]. I’ll get back to you on this.Tree swordbelt [Agrocybe parasitica]. This cluster of your mushrooms was in a cleft at the base of a tawa [Beilschmiedia tawa]. This particular tawa, in the Fernery, produces a crop of mushrooms every year. Tree swordbelt [Agrocybe parasitica]. A mature cluster on a tawa but but the dry northerly wind has desiccated them. This tawa was on the Circular walk just below the Wilton Bowling Club. Garlic shanklet [Mycetinis curraniae]. We normally find this small mushroom growing on the bark of a living totara [Podocarpus totara] just by the information centre. However these were growing on kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] on on the Circular walk just below the Wilton Bowling Club. The last fungus is the icicle tooth [Hericium coralloides]. The phot was sent to me yesterday by Rewi Elliot who is the manager at Otari – Wilton’s Bush. It is a wood decay fungus and was collected by a visitor to the reserve. Rewi did not know what tree species it had been growing on.
The El Niño/ drought continues in Wellington so there isn’t much in the way of larger fungi to see. The family went to Red Rocks (Wellington South coast) on Boxing Day (26 December 2015). The only fungi here are the lichenised ones.It’s all Greek
The boulders at the high tide mark had a patchwork of orange lichen [Xanthoria ligulata]. This species can be found on rocks all round coastal New Zealand and can obviously tolerate being inundated by salt water during storms.The name Xanthoria comes from the Greek word xanthos or yellow and refers to their yellow to orange colour [from Marie Taylor, 2002: Meanings and origins of botanical names of New Zealand plants].
Why are they red?
A walk to Red Rocks is one of those things that Wellingtonians have been doing for generations. Why are the rocks red? From the Wellington City Council website “This unusual rock formation was created when an outcrop of ancient volcanic pillow lava was embedded in younger greywacke, along with red and green siltstone. The Red Rocks Scientific Reserve was created in 1972 after growing public concern about quarrying in the area.”
LichenmobileI saw this car in the car park at Ruakura in Hamilton. It has an impressive number of lichens (a fungus + an alga) growing on the paintwork and plastic surfaces. I am not an expert in lichens but these are probably s species of Parmelia.
The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has a section on lichens on abandoned cars! It says:
“Lichens can thrive on many different surfaces. The surfaces they naturally grow on are rock, soil, plants, other lichens, and sometimes the fur or shells of animals. Lichens also colonise man-made surfaces such as glass, metal, asphalt roads and plastic. This car has been abandoned on farmland near Kaikōura for a number of years, and is now covered in lichens.”The Hamilton car is the interesting because it is still being driven and the lichens need to be able to cope with an ever changing environment i.e. stationary to a 100km per hour on the open road.
The beginning of the end
Lichens are pioneer species which are the first to colonise a barren sites. They are the beginning of a succession of species that will create and build a new soil. These new soils will eventually support a more diverse range of plants, fungi and animals. In other words these lichens are begin the biological process of breaking the car down and returning it to the earth. All very Zen and Gaia if you are into that kind of thing.
Here are some more car further along the colonisation pathway:More pictures of abandoned cars in New Zealand.
While walking the Highbury Fling track (18 November) Margaret Crimp and Anne Conwell came across this strange object growing on fallen pine tree (Pinus radiata). They said it was about 6 cm across with a membranous cover which had split open.“We were mystified – wondered if it might be fungal. Have you any idea what it might be?”
My first reaction was it didn’t ‘look right’ for a fungus. It seemed too big and the membrane was too papery when compared to how wet the inside of it looked through the cracks. I was thinking slime mould but I hadn’t seen anything like it before.
I did quick trawl of the internet and found this picture by Tony Wills of a similar thing again on pine and in Wellington. Tony’s caption of the photo said:
“Apparently some form of slime mold in the form of a white/cream lump ‘growing’ at the base of a Pinus radiata tree stump. Perhaps related to Fuligo septica, but always found in this domed form. 3 to 4cm diameter. Wellington, New Zealand.”So searching the internet again came up with another slime mould Enteridium lycoperdon (Reticularia lycoperdon). Margaret and Anne’s slime mould is likely to be an immature fruit body of this species.
Slime mould live as a plasmodium – like a living soup flowing through the soil eating bacteria, spores, and other organic material.When the plasmodium is big enough and weather conditions suitable it ‘climbs’ to a high place where it coalesces into a solid, spherical body and begins to turn itself into a fruit body. This involves the out part forming a protective membrane. Meanwhile the inner tissue begin to form into spore. Eventually the inner tissue become a solid mass of dry powdery spore, the outer membrane ruptures and the spore blow away in the wind to start the cycle again.
I was in Hamilton on Wednesday at the Ruakura Research Centre and saw these common-basket stinkhorns growing in the mulched garden directly outside the meeting room.The name of both stinkhorn and basket are something of a contradiction – it’s either a basket shaped or horn shaped! I have included below an evolutionary tree, no doubt hopelessly out of date due to more modern molecular techniques but still useful in seeing the morphological trends in the stinckhorns. The common-basket stinkhorn can be found on bush track edges and in undisturbed parts of gardens especially where there has been mulch applied, and usually appears after heavy warm rains. It is amazing how quickly it comes up then disappears, and for this reason, I think, that it is so seldom seen or noticed. If you examine the basket closely you will find it coated in brown slime; this is the spore mass. If you do get this close you will also discover it smells quite revolting. This attracts flies and other insects which become coated in slime and aid the distribution of the spores. All in all an incredible fungus and always an exciting find. So far this year I have only seen common-basket stinkhorn in the Bolton Street Memorial Park and I was texted a photo, Carol Lee, of it on from the Polhill Reserve above Aro Valley.
Walking through the Wellington Botanic Garden today I found smoker’s-lung milkcap [Lactaris turpis] growing under silver birch [Betula pendula] between the Mamaku Way track and Glenmore Rd.Smoker’s-lung milkcap is recognised by it dark motley cap and is sometimes known as the ugly milkcap. I have only collected this once before from under silver birch in Dunedin.
I am only a where of two other collections of smoker’s-lung milkcap from Wellington city. These where identified by Greta Stevenson from the Botanic Garden in April 1979 and from Kelburn Park in May 1980.
As a milkcap is should bleed white sap when cut but these specimens are old and a little dehydrated.
The other test for this species is to put a drop of ammonia solution on the cap which immediately goes brilliant purple. I also tried it on the stem and on the cut flesh of the cap and got a good purple reaction. In the picture below soaked the ammonia solution up with the paper towel and you can see the almost blue black colour it has gone.You can read about other species that occur under silver birch here
Walking home this afternoon I saw this group of scarlet pouches [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythocephala] in on the edge of the Early Settles Memorial Lawn in the Bolton Street Memorial Park. This area has an over storey of exotic pines abd oaks with regenerating native bush amongst the graves and has also been mulched with wood chip. From the path you look down an amphithestre of stone stone steps to the lawn. The scarlet pouches looked like Jaffas that have tumbled down the tiered flooring in a picture theatre.
Jaffas are a kiwi iconic candy and only found here in New Zealand (and also Australia, but shhh). They were around long ago, and if you ask some of the ‘older’ generation they will tell you stories of rolling jaffa’s down the picture theatre (cinema) aisle as a child. That means they must be at least 50 years old! We hold these Jaffa’s with such prestige that as part of the Cadbury chocolate festival, we race jaffas down the steepest street in the world [in Dunedin] – just to make a statement. The jaffa is made from delectable dark chocolate covered in an orange flavoured candy shell. [from NZsnowtours]Read more about Leratiomyces here