There won’t be many New Zealanders’ who didn’t follow the life and love of Murray Ball’s (1939-2017) Wal Footrot and the Dog in Footrot Flats. As Shaun Bamber wrote:
When I was 11, I bought a copy of Murray Ball’s first Footrot Flats book off a classmate at school for $2.50 and a pack of sandwiches. It’s sitting here beside me right now as I write these words.
I was already well familiar with The Dog, Wal and the rest of the Footrot crew by then of course – had in fact been almost obsessively collecting the anthologies ever since some relative or other got me one to read while recovering from getting my tonsils out.
And in a great blog looking at the history and reason for the popularity of Footrot Flats by Bob from Temuka wrote:
And that popularity was deserved, because it was a rich strip from a simpler, less media-saturated time. It did romanticise the rural lifestyle, but never hid the dirt and filth of the farmyard. Ball, who lived the life he drew about, could get into devilish detail on a rotting goat’s carcass, or a steaming pile of rank manure – everyday sights for the farmer, but endearingly shocking to everybody else. You could smell the silage in the ink, and that gave the strip a raw, sketchy vitality It was also wildly popular because the characters were so recognisable, (at least in NZ). There was the upright farmer, the hippie neighbour, the cheeky hussy, the stern Aunt and the pampered pet. And there was the Dog.
I have three comic strips cut from 1982 editions of the Wellington Evening Post. They are badly yellowed from years of hanging on my office wall. I don’t know if they were ever reprinted in the many Footrot Flats’ anthologies? So here is the Dog’s thoughts on mushrooms.
When I worked as a mycologist at Forest Research, in Rotorua, a part of the campus, the Long Mile, was rented to a film crew. They were making a television version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World and were filming in the Red Wood Grove, in the town belt, behind Forest Research.
When it finally screened, it was exciting to watch explorers’ first encounter with dinosaurs in Rotorua’s grove of North American redwoods with their understory of native ferns. However, biological and geographic credibility flew out the window as the explorers ran out of the redwoods on to the shore of a South Island lake surround by kahikatea! Another illusion destroyed.
I had also read that Doyle’s lost plateau in South America had features that corresponded to those in his home county of Sussex. Seeing the map of Zealandia sanctuary reminded me of that lost plateau.
I was invited to help with Zealandia’s bioblitz school holiday programme at the end of April. I haven’t collected in Zealandia before and wasn’t expecting to find much this time because of the very dry weather we had been experiencing. However with the help of the kids we found quite a few fungi.
Our first find was the wood-ear jelly [Auricularia cornea] on a dead branch. The fruit bodies are very shriveled due to the dry conditions but will revive when they are made wet rain.
This little parasol mushroom, about 5 cm across the cap, is somewhere around Leucoagaricus rubrotinctus.
Growing on a well rotted standing trunk was a leather bracket of Cyclomyces tabacinus.
These little mushroom, up to about 4 com across the cap, where pinkish brown and slimy, with white gills that did not reach the stem. I want to say a Limacella?A group of small mushrooms, .05 – 1 cm diameter, growing on a standing dead tree. They were fawn in colour with purplish gills.
Zealandia started life as land that had been cleared and burnt for farmland, then became Wellingtons water catchment areas with the building of Karori Reservoir. The catchment area was replanted in a mixture of trees including exotic Pinus radiata. A number of well rotted pines now litter the floor of the regenerating bush. This plum woodknight [Tricholomopsis rutilans] was growing from a rotten pine stump. It is almost always fond on rotting pine wood.This is a typical mushroom [Agaricus sp.] with its fibrous to scaly cap, prominent ring on the stem, and its dark brown gills. Growing close to the Agaricus were clusters of black birdsnests [Cyathus novaezelandiae] These are fruit bodies of dead man’s fingers (Xylaria sp.] on a standing dead tree. This little, about 1 cm diameter, yellow fruit body was in deep wood dust / frass inside a very rotten log. It is a parasol and possibly a Leucocoprinus sp. Growing in the litter were a group of Cloudy funnelcap [Clitocybe nebularis]. The large fruit bodies were about 6-7 cm in diameter. Another parasol [Lepiota sp.] An artist’s porebracket [Ganoderma applanatum]growing from the trunk of a living red beech [Nothofagus fusca]. Southern beech is not native to the Wellingtom peninsula and this tree would have been an experimental planting by the catchment board. Note the pinkish brown spores all over the horizonatl surfaces both below and above the bracket. A little gilled conch with dark brown spores [Melanotus sp.]. There were lots of these growing from very wet rotten branches used to line the edge of an open drain.
Wellington has been very dry in the weeks leading up to the Foray and despite the heavy down pour last night there is not a lot around.
Leratiomyces ceres = Stropharia aurantiaca [scarlet roundhead]. A perennial find at Otari. Read more about Leratiomyces ceres.Agaricus sp. [a mushroom] – Growing next to boardwalk, at the north end of the Visitor’s Centre, at the base of a rimu. We first recorded this at Otari during the 2013 Foray. Nidula candida [white birdsnest]. A common find on woodchip mulch around the gardens. Galerina sp [a helmet]. A small brown spored mushroom growing on the woodchip mulched path in the fernery. Note the distinctive ring on the stem. Postia sp. [a woody bracket]. See comments on Postia in last weeks blog. Auricularia cornea [wood ear jelly]. A common wood decay fungus. Read more about the wood ear jelly. Favolaschia calocera [orange poreconch]. A common wood decay fungus at this time of the year. Hypholoma fasciculare [a woodtuft]. Another wood decay fungus which is also often found on woodchip. Here it was on a log edging the path in the fernery. Agrocybe parasitica [tree swordbelt]. A common heart rot fungus of living tawa. This particular tree produces two or three flushes of mushrooms each year. To see Agrocybe parasitica as unopen caps look at last weeks blog. Also seen in the fernery were:
- Volvariella gloiocephala (= V. speciosa) [common scabbard] – Read more about Volvariella gloiocephala.
- Trametes versicolor [Turkey-tail porebracket] – Read more about Trametes versicolor.
- Parasola leiocephala [Brown-umbrella inkcap] – Have a look at of the genera cut out of Coprinus i.e. Parosola, Coprinopsis, and Coprinellus.
Friday 16 May 2014
Slippery-jack bolete [Suillus luteus] – under pines on Pine Hill Path.
Slippery-jack bolete differes from sticky-bun bolete in having a ring on the upper part of the stem.
Scarlet flycap [Amanita muscaria] – under pines on Pine Hill Path.
Cloudy funnelcap [Clitocybe nebularis ] – Under pines with an under storey of regenerating bush near the junction of Junction Path and Serpentine Way.
Skull puffball [Calvatia craniiformis] – Under pines with an under storey of regenerating bush near the junction of Junction Path and Serpentine Way. Note that the outer surface has pealed away from the fruitbody to exposed the powdery dry mass of spores contained within.
Scarlet pouch [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythrocephala] – This is a native species which appears to have taken advantage of the trend to mulch gardens as can be seen here in the conifer shrubbery at the lower end of Pine Hill Path.
Ruby helmet [Mycena viscidocruenta] – This small red Mycena was growing on woodchips amongst the Scarlet pouches above.
Harefoot inkcap [Coprinopsis lagopus] – Growing in wood chip mulch in the fuchsia garden along Ludlam Way in the formal garden on Glenmore St.
Coral jelly [Tremellodendron sp.] – fruiting prolifically on the ground under sugar maple [Acer saccharum]
European beech [Fagus sylvatica]. This tough little coralloid fungus has persisted for several weeks and has a cartilaginous consistency and rounded rather than point tips to its extremities. To determine whether this identification it would require microscopic examination of the basidia i.e. the spore producing cells. These were growing at the end of Ludlam Way where it joins West Way.
Ivory conch [Conchomyces bursaeformis]– A fan shaped mushroom, no stem, growing from rotten wood. It can be white to yellowish and has white gills. The ivory conches were growing on the moss covered trunk of an English oak [Quercus robur] growing at the junction of Ludlam Way and West Way.
Sunday 18 May 2014
Yellow chanterelle [Cantherellus wellingtonensis] – This pretty little chanterelle was growing in big troops on the bank along Serpentine Way above The Dell. There was kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] growing at the slope above the bank. This is a Greta Stevenson species, as Hygrophorus variabilis, described from a collection made in the Botanic Garden in 1947.
A chalkcap [Russula macrocystidiata] – this single fruitbody was growing on the same bank as the yellow chanterelles on the bank along Serpentine Way above The Dell under kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] .
Blewit knight [Lepista nuda] – The blewit knight was growing at the edge of a gravel path and woodchip mulched conifer shrubbery on the slope above Pine Hill Path. Although faded the stipe and gills were purplish in colour.
A mushroom [Agaricus sp.] – This was in the mature pine stand but under a eucalypt just below Pine Hill Path.
A pinkgill some where around Entoloma distinctum – Growing under kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] on Manuka Way just below the MetService building.
A webcap somewhere near Cortinarius memoria-annae – Growing under kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] on Manuka Way just below the MetService building. Note the purplish colouring at the top of the stem and into the cap tissue.
Tea chalkcap [Russula novae-zelandiae] – Growing under kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] on Norwood Path leading down from the MetService building to the Lady Norewood Rose Garden.
Dusty flycap [Amanita nehuta] – The dusty flycap. a native Amanita, was growing under kanaka [Kunzea ericoides] on the slope above the Waterfall and Peace Garden near the Lady Norewood Rose Garden.
The distinctive powdery surface and radially grooved [= sulcate] margin of the cap [photo Helen Cairney].
Added 23 May 2014
Here are Edward Bower’s photo in the comments below.Post script 1 November 2014
Kaye Proudly contacted me (see below) on the similarity between the Agaricus I collected under eucalypts and Agaricus augustus that she has collected in Victoria, Australia.
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Oak chalkcap [Russula sororia] – The oak chalkcap was growing in a mixed species stand of exotic trees, at the junction of Ludlam and West Way. The stand included English oak [Quercus robur] which is its usual mycorrhizal associate.
Sunday, 27 April 2014
Fragrant parasol [Lepiota cristata] – The fragrant parasol was growing in rough lawn behind the Herb Garden on the hill behind the Lady Norsewood Rose Garden. I also saw it at Otari-Wilton’s Bush garden the same day (see here).
The following species were seen along the Pine Hill Path which runs from the main gates up the Glenmore slope through the conifer collection. There are many older trees planted on the slope which are now reaching the end of their life. There is also a collection of ornamental shrub forming conifers in a garden which has been mulched with wood chips.
A mushroom [Agaricus sp.] – This was in the conifer shrubbery but at the base of a eucalypt.
Scarlet pouch [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythrocephala] – This is a native species which appears to have taken advantage of the trend to mulch gardens.
Scarlet roundhead [Leratiomyces ceres = Stropharia aurantiaca]– see here for more information about this species.
Fluted birdsnest [Cyathus striatus] – This larger birdsnest is easy recognised by the dark brown hairy cup with a shiny fluted interior.
Sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus] – The sticky-bun bolete was growing under pines further up the slope from the mulched garden. These are some of the oldest radiata maritime pines [Pinus radiata pinaster] in New Zealand having been grown from one of the first seed shipments from California in 1868. [Update 11 May 2014: I was very uncomfortable with this identification and kept coming back to a species of Boletus. When Jerry Cooper saw the picture he emailed me and said he thought it was a Boletus as well. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the specimen so looks like I will be walking to work up this path in the hope of seeing it again.]
This last summer has been notable in being dry and followed by a reasonably wet autumn (see The drought has broken). So there were plenty of fungi around for the foray, 25-26 May 2013. Below is the list of what we did see.
Otari garden – an exhibition garden of low growing New Zealand native plants but not native to the local area) mulched with wood chips.
Lepiota sp. [a parasol] – this was in the garden under Nothofagus solandri. This is the first collection of this species at Otari.
Leratiomyces ceres [scarlet roundhead] – on wood chip. For more on this mushroom go to my blog here.
Weraroa erythrocephala [scarlet pouch] – in the wood chip mulch and in litter in mixed forest.
Clitocybe nebularis [cloudy funnelcap] – not so much in the garden as down the bank in the bush. Large mushrooms up 25cm diameter and usually in groups or even arranged in arcs in the bush.
Lacramaria lacrymabunda [weeping widow] – solid mushrooms, with a shaggy surface, mottled blackish kills, and a fibrous ring at top of stem. This is the first collection of this species at Otari.
Beech (Nothofagus) grove – this grove was planted as beech is not native to the Wellington peninsular. We haven’t in the past found much here but being a month later there is a lot more to be seen.
Russula acrolamellata [ugly chalkcap]. This mushroom has a brown to golden cap and white stem. Like all chalk cap the stem snaps when bent. If you are prepared to chew a little of the gill tissue on the tip of your tongue it should be quite hot hence the name acrolamellata or acrid gills. We also saw it under kanuka.
Amanita nothofagi [charcoal flycap] – this is an mycorrhizal species which means it is only found growing on the roots of southern beech or teatree. It is related to the scarlet flycap, with its red cap and white warts, seen under pines. Several mushrooms were present.
Coprinellus (Coprinus) disseminatus [sociable inkcap] – A common inkcap found growing on dead wood in all kinds of habitats.
Tylopylus brunneus [cocoa bolete] – Last collected here in 2011. This bolete bruises blue-grey.
I put the cut fruitbody, from above, on paper to dry and the fluid from it seeped into paper where it has reacted with the air and turned the classic blue of this reaction.
Circular walk from Information Centre – this is an area of original broadleaf-podocarp forest but with an underplanted collection of plants that would be expected in this type of forest.
Micromphale sp. [garlic shanklet] – on bark of living totara. If you cup on of these mushroom in your hands and put your hands over your nose you can smell the distinct odour of gallic.
Agaricus sp. [a mushroom] – Growing next to boardwalk in kauri litter. Tall brown mushroom. This is the first collection of this species at Otari. This is very similar to Marie Taylor’s collection GMT737 (PDD84327) which she collected in 1972 from under kauri in Northcote, Auckland.
Lepiota sp. [a parasol] – This was growing under totara.
Mycena pura [lilac helmet] – This distinctive lilac mushroom was growing in the leaf litter.
Favolashia calocera (orange poreconch) – on fallen branches.
Agrocybe parasitica [tree swordbelt] – on living hardwood.
Heimiomyces neovelutipes [bush shank] – Growing on decaying wood.
Armillaria novaezelandae [olive honeycap] – on rotten wood.
Mycena sp. [a helmet] – A very dark coloured Mycena growing on wood. It is similar to Ian Hoods figure 143. It also looks like Jerry Cooper’s Mycena sp. ‘Ahuriri Reserve (PDD80918)’.
Lentinellus novae-zelandiae [bush shiitake] – on rotting log.
I thought I would take the opportunity to clear my inbox and share the treasures with.
I was sent this photo of boletes collected from under oaks in Hagley Park in Christchurch. The characteristic features of these boletes are the finally cracking cap surface exposing the underlying flesh, the yellowish pore surface and upper stem and the reddish base to the stem.
I went back to the sender and asked if where the brown skin of the cap has cracked is the flesh underneath slightly pinkish or is it yellow? If you cut the stem lengthwise it should be reddish near the bottom, after a few minutes exposure to the air does the cut flesh turn bluish? His response was no to both questions. This does show the difficulty of identifying specimens that are past their prime. If we look at both characteristics in turn: The cracking of the cap is quite apparent but the exposure of the reddish underlying tissue is not reliable as it changes with the age. Also many of the description in fact say that the underlying tissue is only pinkish and usually only towards the margin of the cap. As these specimens look reasonably weather beaten and quite dry it is not surprising that the pinkish flesh is not obvious.
The second characteristic is the bluing of the bruised or cut flesh. While seeming a strong feature one description says “sometimes blueing when bruised” and “this reaction takes several seconds with the blueing never as intense”. Not a great character for beginners. If you look carefully at the tube surface of the two boletes in which this character can be seen you will see grey bruising on the pore surface where the bolete has been handled. In some species blue bruising can be greyish and/or be bluish initially then turn grey.
Given that I only have a photo my pick is that this is Xerocomus chrysenteron [red-cracked bolete]. The only other species which it could be is Xerocomus porosporus which I have only seen in Dunedin.
Gracie MacKinley found this large puffball in Greenhithe, Auckland. It is probably Calvatia craniiformis [brain puffball] however it would be difficult to identify as it is immature. You can tell this from the solid white flesh inside the puffball.
As the puffball matures the flesh will convert to spore producing cells. Each of these cells will produce four spores. Once the spores are developed they will dry out to become a powdery yellowish green mass inside the leathery shell of the puffball. Eventually the shell will break to release the spores to the wind. During the drying process the puffball becomes wrinkled like a human brain. The solid white flesh of the immature puffball of Calvatia craniiformis is edible.
Keelan Walker in Blenheim sent me these photos of a bolete under pines. I asked Keelan whether they were sticky on top or did it look like it could have been sticky because pine needle etc. have become firmly stuck to the cap? Did the stem look smooth or spotted with darker markings? When you cut through the flesh length-wise (cut it in two equal halves including the full length of the stem) does any of the cut flesh turn bluish or bluish-black?
Keelan responded “seems to be a sticky substance on the top and on the stem but I don’t notice any spots. When I cut it through the middle there is no blue/black colouring. There is a yellowish/sulphur type colouring tainting the flesh of the cap through”. All useful observations and indicate that this is Suillus granulatus [sticky-bun bolete].
Jan Nisbet photo, from the Whareroa Farm walk about 3.5 km north of Paekakariki, while not a fungus is topical at the moment.
This is a slime mould, Physarium cinereum, which is common at this time of the year on the blades of grass. Slime moulds live as free living organisms in the soil engulfing micro-organisms as a food source. When the reproductive urge takes hold they climb to a high place, in this case blades of grass, and convert, almost metamorphosis, into these rigid fungal like fruiting bodies. The fruitbodies will become hard, break and release spores to start the process again.
Ginelle Simoes left a message on my blog About page last night alerting me to mushrooms growing in the wood mulch under the pohutukawas at the intersection of Jervois Quay, Wakefield St and Taranaki St. Like any good mycologist I was down there at 9pm last night in the dark taking photos and collecting specimens. These were large white and brown, shaggy Chlorophyllum (Macrolepiota) rhacodes and smaller dark brown species of Agaricus. Chlorophyllum rhacodes is regularly eaten as are species of Agaricus (the mushrooms in the supermarket are a species of Agaricus).
Update 24 May 2013
Here is a closer view of the ‘double ring’ found in Chlorophyllum rhacodes as mentioned by Jerry in the correspondence below.