Myco-cartooning

Dr Ann Bell is a mycological artist and also a cartoonist. She was also my mentor and supervisor during my post-graduate studies. While Ann’s artwork can be found in her taxonomic papers and books her cartoons are more ephemeral. During my time as her student, I collected a few of cartoons that had a mycological flavour.

The first one featured on the Department of Botany’s (Victoria University of Wellington) annual Prospectus from 1978 until 1988. It features the staff and their teaching and research interest. Down in the bottom corner is someone studying an Amanita muscaria. Who would have known when I started studying botany in 1978 that I would work on Amanita for my PhD.

Cover of the Department of Botany prospectus [cartoon Bell 1978-1988]

“Amanita ID” [cartoon Bell 1978-1988]

I first worked with Ann for my Honours’ project on dung fungi. At this time Ann was working on her dung fungi of New Zealand book which was published in 1984. She illustrated the passage of the dung fungi spores through a sheep like this:

“The dung fungus lifestyle” [from Bell 1984]

In 1986 the first New Zealand fungal foray was held at  Kauaeranga Valley in the Coromandel. Ann drew this cartoon of the identification process to celebrate the Foray and Dr Barbara Segedin’s birthday. The full A4 sheet has all of our signatures.

“Achieving consensus 1” [cartoon Ann Bell 1986]

Ann later redrew a portion of the “identification process” to illustrate a short report of the Foray in a newsletter.

“Achieving consensus 2” [cartoon Bell 1986]

She also drew this grumpy little elf to illustrate the advertisement for the 1987 foray in the same newsletter.

“Grumpy little elf” [cartoon Bell 1986]

Sometime in early 1988, I gave Ann a portion of my PhD manuscript, as a dot matrix printout, to read along with a pile of photographs that were referred to in the text. This was also before scanning of photos was available. The printout came back with Ann’s annotations, corrections and this little fellow who I have come to know as “Russel the Russula spore”. I have included here the SEM (scanning electron microscope) photo that was the inspiration.

“Russel the Russula spore” [Cartoon Ann Bell 1988]

Russula acrolamellata spore [Photo Geoff Ridley]

In 1988 Barbara Segedin retired from the Department of Botany at the University of Auckland. As a retirement gift “A Memorable Mycological Miscellany” was produced. Ann contributed three cartoons. The first had Barbara ranking the three most important things in her life. Note that Cecil was her husband and he was from Yugoslavia.

Cartoon by Ann Bell, 1988

The next was a troop of helmets or Mycena. I like the German imagery of Mycena as helmets rather than the more English image of bonnets.

“A troop of helmets” [Cartoon Ann Bell 1988]

And the last was “the romantic love story of Mucor”. I have also included Ann’s more scientific drawing of Mucor from 1984.

“The romantic love story of Mucor” [cartoon Ann Bell 1988]

Mucor life cycle [illustration Bell 1984]

The curtain dropped for the Botany Department at the end of 1988 as it was rolled into a larger School of Biological Science. Ann illustrated the School’s new prospectus but these did not include any fungi. It did include a moss and some feral knitting:

“Feral knitting” [cartoon Bell 1989]

The beginning of 1989 marked the completion of my PhD and Ann’s cartoon of students completing their degree sums it up.

“Taking flight with a new degree” [Cartoon Bell 1989]

Although in Ann did remind us not to let it go to our heads (in Green, 1979).

“Wearing nothing but his qualifications”[Cartoon Bell in Green 1979]

If anyone one knows of any other mycological cartoons Ann has drawn please let me know so I can include them here.

References

Bell A, 1983. Dung fungi: an illustrated guide to coprophilous fungi in New Zealand. Victoria University Press, Wellington [this book is still available from Victoria University Press]

Department of Botany, Victoria University of Wellington, Prospectus. 1978 to 1988

Green W, 1979. Focus on social responsibility in science. The New Zealand Association of Scientists.

School of Biological Science, Victoria University of Wellington, Prospectus. 1989

Systematics Association of New Zealand, Newsletter 27, December 1986

 

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A mycology of New Zealand in 10 fungi

I posed the question to myself – if I had to pick 10 fungi to epitomise mycology in New Zealand what would they be and why would I choose them? In some cases I have blogged about them before and some I will do so in the future. So here is my choice.

1. Amanita muscaria is number one as this exotic fungus would be one of the most obvious and abundant mushrooms in our autumn landscape. It is beneficial in that it is an ectomycorrhizal fungus and is important in enhancing the growth of our pine and Douglas-fir plantations.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

2. Armillaria novae-zelandiae and Armillaria limonea are two native species that have wreaked havoc in our tree plantations and kiwifruit orchards. They actively attack the roots and root collar of wood plants and are capable of killing them.

Armillaria novae-zelandiae [photo Geoff Ridley]

Armillaria novae-zelandiae [photo Geoff Ridley]

3. Entoloma hochstteri – this beautiful blue native mushroom is every ones holy grail to find. It is also the only mushroom to appear on currency, NZ$50, anywhere in the world. See Hochstetter’s blue pinkgill.

The new $50 note

Entoloma hochstteri on the $50 note

 

4. Pithomyces chartarum is an exotic microfungus that you will never see that decomposes dead grass. However, it can produce spores in great numbers at times, such as this year, and causes the disease known as facial eczema in sheep and cattle. The spores contain a toxin which can severely damage the liver of the affected animal and can lead to death. See Brown Grenades.

Pithomyces chartarum [photo ??]

Pithomyces chartarum [photo ??]

5. Gloeophyllum sepiarium, Gloeophyllum trabeum, Oligoporus placenta and Antrodia sinuosa – I am treating this functional group of four native wood decay fungi as one. They cause cubical brown rot and are the most prevalent species causing damage in leaky house syndrome in New Zealand. They rose to prominence in the 1990s after changes in building regulations saw the use of unsuitable material and building styles resulting in buildings not being weather proof. See Fungi in leaky homes.

Heavily degraded framing caused by brown rot fungus within the wall cavity [photo Dirk Stahlhut]

Rotting framing timber caused by brown rot fungus [photo Dirk Stahlhut]

6. Ileodictyon cibarium is our most common native stinkhorn and once seen never forgotten. I included this one as it one of the few species that has some Maori lore associated with it so bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and western science.

The common-basket stinckhorn: Ileodictyon cibarium [photo Geoff Ridley]

Ileodictyon cibarium [photo Geoff Ridley]

7. Neotyphodium lolii is another exotic microfungus that you will never see but which has had a significant effect in New Zealand pastoral farming. The fungus is an endophyte growing between the cells in a ryegrass plant. It produces a toxin that affects the nervous system of grazing animals. Modern ryegrass cultivars have been bred and inoculated with non-toxic strains of Neotyphodium lolii to overcome this significant disease.

2016.08.07 endophyte

Neotyphodium growing between the cells in ryegrass [photo Grasslanz]

8. Cyttaria gunnii is a distinctive Gondwanan element of our fungal flora. It is a parasite on southern beech [Nothofagus]. Cyttaria species occur in New Zealand, Tasmania, SE Australia, and southern Chile and Argentina. See Cyttaria galls on silver beech.

Cyttaria gunnii [photo Forest Research]

Cyttaria gunnii [photo Forest Research]

9. Auricularia cornea is a very common native wood decay fungus and was the basis of the first fungal export industry in New Zealand. See Taranaki wool.

Auricularia cornea [photo Geoff Ridley]

Auricularia cornea [photo Geoff Ridley]

10. Melampsora larici-populina is an exotic fungus causing rust on poplars. It arrived in the mid 1970s defoliating poplars across the country. It was the first well documented case of a fungal disease blowing in from Australia in a process that was to become known as trans-Tasman transport. See Melampsora leaf rusts in New Zealand.

Melampsora larici-populina infected poplars [photo Landcare Research]

Melampsora larici-populina infected poplars [photo Landcare Research]


Central Park, Wellington

“What is it? It’s huge”

I got the above txt and a photo of a bolete from my son Lachie while he was walking in Central Park during Queen’s Birthday weekwnd. I asked directions and off I went to see for myself. It had been a long time since I had been to Central Park.

The wood of Central Park

Central park is 13ha of land on the flanks of a deep gully cut by the Moturua stream and bounded by Brookyln and Ohiro roads.

Central Park, Wellington [photo Google Map]

Central Park, Wellington [photo Google Map]

The area was probably cleared of native vegetation not long after the establishment of Wellington and parts were used rubbish tips.

Tram Accident on Brooklyn Hill 3 May 1907. The farmland to the right will become Central Park [photo Alexander Turnbull Library]

Tram Accident on Brooklyn Hill 3 May 1907. The farmland to the right will become Central Park [photo Alexander Turnbull Library]

Tree planting began in 1907 and its development as a park began in 1913 including a formal garden at the entrance at the city end.

Looking up Central Park (1920s) with main entrance lower left, and the first and middle path heading up the hill. The small trees on the lawn in the centre are the southern live oaks [photo Alexander Turnbull Library]

Looking up Central Park (1920s) with main entrance lower left, and the first and middle path heading up the hill. The small trees on the lawn in the centre are possibly the southern live oaks [photo Alexander Turnbull Library]

Central Park is now a mixed woodland of pines, eucalypts, deciduous trees such as elms, limes. There is a significant regeneration of a native understorey beneath the pines and eucalypts.

Track following the Moturua stream with regenerating native vegetation under planted eucalypts [photo Pseudopanax]

Track following the Moturua stream with regenerating native vegetation under planted eucalypts [photo Pseudopanax]

Open your eyes and look

Walking in the main entrance I saw several Amanita muscaria growing near the base of a multi-stemmed pohutukawa [Metrosideros excela]. A quick looked around and I found a young oak on the other side of the pohutukawa, explaining the presence of the Amanita muscaria.

 Amanita muscaria and Chalciporus piperatus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria and Chalciporus piperatus [photo Geoff Ridley]

I turned to the right where the path splits into three and I followed the central path which wanders through a pohutukawa woodland. Growing under these trees were more Amanita muscaria, Chalciporus piperatus, Cortinarius sp. and Russula amoenlens (?). But how could this be as I could not see any ectomycorrhizal trees only pohutukawa? So I went and looked at one of these pohutukawa and I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. These weren’t pohutukawa but rather North American southern live oak [but Quercus virginiana]. I good lesson in not assuming but actually looking and seeing.

Cortinarius sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

A little further on, and still under the oaks, I found Lachie’s bolete. A single big fruit body  – beautiful specimen of Boletus edulis – and a small well decayed one nearby. This is the third location I am aware of and each with a different host tree species – Pinus radiata, Quercus robur and Quercus virginiana.

Boletus edulis [photo Geoff Ridley]

Boletus edulis [photo Geoff Ridley]

Boletus edulis [photo Geoff Ridley]

Boletus edulis [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also not far from the bolete was a group of Hebeloma crustuliniforme (?).

Hebeloma crustuliniforme (?). [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hebeloma crustuliniforme (?). [photo Geoff Ridley]

Under the linden tree

Alone the edge of the third path which follows the Moturua stream up the centre of the Park is a row of limes or linden trees [Tilia cordata]. The lindens are immediately adjacent to the southern live oaks. These trees are of interest because Greta Stevenson wrote of finding a flush of Russula pectinata under these trees in April 1978. Jerry Cooper has been looking into the identity of this fungus. He is currently calling it Russula amoenlens but says the taxonomy is a mess. I have collected some of the Russula to send to him.

Russula amoenlens [photo Geoff Ridley]

Russula amoenlens [photo Geoff Ridley]

Further reading

Stevenson G 1981. Antipodean association between Russula pectinata and planted limes. Bulletin of the British Mycological Society 15(1, April): 59-61.

Wellington City Council 2013. Wellington Town Belt Management Plan June 2013.


A wet Tuesday in April

 

Having noted the dry conditions for the Otari-Wiltons bush Fungal Foray last Sunday, 26 April 2015, Monday afternoon brought 40 – 50mm of rain across Wellington over the next 24 hour period. Having only seen collapsed and mummified mushrooms on Sunday here is what I saw walking home from the CBD through the Bolton Street Memorial Park and Wellington Botanic Garden.

In the lower section of the Bolton Street Memorial Park under a century old Pinus radiata  was this swarm of sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus]. Read my earlier comments on this species here and here.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Suillus granulatus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Within a few centimetres of the sticky-bun boletes was the pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens]. See my earlier comment about this species here.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

In the upper section of the Park Hebeloma crustuliniforme growing on a grave between the Seddon and the Holland Memorials at the top of the Robertson Way path.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Hebeloma crustuliniforme [photo Geoff Ridley]

On the edge of the Lady Norwood Rose Garden in the Botanic Garden there is a row of silver birches [Betula pendula]. Fruiting under the birches were a number of birch boletes [Leccinum scabrum] and another small group under birches in West Way path. I took both home to see if the internal tissues blued when exposed to air but there was no change – see here for previous discussion of this reaction. The other interesting this about these fruit bodies as the appear to have been scalped by something but I don’t know what.

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also growing with the birch boletes were common deceiver [Laccaria laccata].

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Laccaria laccata [photo Geoff Ridley]

There was a single scarlet flycap [Amanita muscaria] growing under the pines on the Pine Hill Path. I have included it here to show how variable the fruit bodies  can be. Here it is orange on the outer rim of the cap and red in the centre with only a few white warts toward edge of the cap. Compare this with the photos below of another scarlet flycap growing under silver birch on West Way path. Here the whole cap is deep red and thickly studded with white warts. It would be easy to think that we have found two different species.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also growing under the birch  on West Way were birch rollrims. Since 1969 we have been calling it Paxillus involutus but recent work in Europe has shown that there are a number of closely related species. It has turned out that the species in New Zealand is Paxillus cuprinus as it did not turn green when exposed to ammonia solution – the test used to separate it from the other species in New Zealand Paxillus ammoniavirescens.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Growing amongst the birch boletes were some small dark brown mushrooms that are a species of webcap [Cortinarius] possible somewhere around Cortinarius rigidus.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

Growing on the grass, on the West Way, but not associated with trees was the field mushroom [Agaricus compestri]. note the pink gills which will turn dark brown as the spores on their surfaces mature.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

The scarlet pouch [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythrocephala] is a native species which taken advantage of the trend to mulch gardens as can be seen here growing on mulch under a specimen tree of Metasequoia glyptostroboides at the end of West Way.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]


Time to get serious

It is time to stop the denial and admit the drought is over and the fungi season has started! Walking home from work yesterday dispelled that idea when I ran into a lot of old friends.

This large, 12cm across, birch bolete [Leccinum scabrum] growing under silver birch [Betula pendula] in the Bolton Street Memorial Park.

Leccinum scrabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scrabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scrabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scrabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

About 50cm away from the birch bolete and under the same tree was this group of red-cracked bolete [Xerocomus chrysenteron]. Although I have seen this species before it is the first time I have seen it here in this park. Note the blue staining on the bruised pores and on the cut tissue of the cap and stem.

Xerocomus chrysenteron [photo Geoff Ridley]

Xerocomus chrysenteron [photo Geoff Ridley]

Xerocomus chrysenteron [photo Geoff Ridley]

Xerocomus chrysenteron [photo Geoff Ridley]

Just beyond the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, in the Wellington Botanic Garden, on the steep bank between Anderson Park playing field and Glenmore St was this group of scarlet flycaps [Amanita muscaria].

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

The reason I am including this common species is that it usually ectomycorrhizal on exotic hardwoods or conifers. In this case it is growing under pohutukawa [Metrodideros excelsa] and totara [Podocarpus totara] – neither of which are ectomycorrhizal. The only exotic hardwood in the mix was a stunted hawthorn [Crataegus] however on a the edge of the playing fields is a row of small trees that I did not recognise. Turns out they are southern live oak [Quercus virginiana] and they are likely to be the mycorrhizal partner of the scarlet flycaps and an association I have not seen before.

Quercus virginiana [photo Geoff Ridley]

Quercus virginiana [photo Geoff Ridley]

Just beyond the Puriri Lawn in the formal garden was the first of the coral jelly [Tremellodendron sp.] on the ground under sugar maple [Acer saccharum]. The flowers are puriri [Vitex lucens].

Tremellodendron sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

Tremellodendron sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

Next to the sugar maple is a grove of European beech [Fagus sylvatica] and English oak [Quercus robur]. Growing under these was the oak chalkcap [Russula sororia]

Russula sororia [photo Geoff Ridley]

Russula sororia [photo Geoff Ridley]

The last stretch of the path up to the west entrance on Glenmore St there is a row of silver birches and fruiting under them was the birch rollrim [Paxillus involutus].

Paxillus involutus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Paxillus involutus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Paxillus involutus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Paxillus involutus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also growing from the base of a silver birch, on dead wood, was the crumble inkcap [Coprinellus micaceus] .

Coprinellus micaceus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Coprinellus micaceus [photo Geoff Ridley]

 


The autumn rains begin

I was down in Ashburton at the weekend and I saw these scarlet flycaps [Amanita muscaria] growing in the garden near the information centre on East St. They were growing under English oak [Quercus robur].

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Tropical cyclone Pam followed by several fronts moving up off the Southern Ocean has brought significant rain to New Zealand this month. The rain has stirred the fungi in to activity.

Tropical Cyclone Pam

Tropical Cyclone Pam

Back in Wellington and walking through the Botanic Garden today there was a mixture of birch bolete [Leccinum scabrum, see blog 12 May 2012] and birch rollrim [Paxillus involutus, see blog 30 April 2013].


A strange yellow Amanita

Richard Davey sent me some pictures of a flycap [Amanita] that he collected under a pine plantation [Pinus radiata] on the western boundary of Otari-Wilton’s Bush reserve. I thought I knew all of the species of flycap in New Zealand but this I have not seen before. There is only one species of flycap, the scarlet flycap [Amanita muscaria], usually found under pine. This new yellow flycap was growing along with the scarlet flycap in the plantation.

Amanita muscaria and the yellow flycap [Photo Geoff Ridley]

The distinctive features of the yellow flycap is the large, flat, membranous  patches on the cap and the radial grooves (sulcation) on the edge of the cap.

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Membranous patch on the cap of the yellow flycap [Photo Geoff Ridley]

The other feature is the lack of a ring or annulus on the stem. For comparison see the scarlet flycaps significant ring in the first photo above.

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General features of the yellow flycap [Photo Geoff Ridley]

A feature of the genus Amanita is that the fruitbody forms inside an ‘egg’ which breaks up as the mushroom grows and expands. The way it breaks up is a characteristic of each species. In this case the ‘egg’ has broken to form the flat membrane on the cap and may also leave a rim of tissue around the top of the bulb which is at the base of the stem. An interesting feature is the presence of significant amount of the ‘egg shell’ on the stem. In the photo below there is some ‘egg shell’ sticking to the stem just below Richard’s thumb. This almost looks like a ring and in some species is so substantial it is often described as a pseudo-ring.

Stem of yellow flycap [Photo Richard Davey]

Stem of yellow flycap [Photo Richard Davey]

When I visited the pine plantation and collected my specimens there were some young fruitbodies just breaking out of the ‘egg’ and there was no sign of a ring.

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Yellow flycap [Photo Geoff Ridley]

The other photo Richard sent me shows again the membrane on the stem looking like a collapsed ring and the fragment of ‘egg shell’ around the rim of the stem’s basal bulb.

Stem features of the yellow flycap [Photo Richard ]

Stem features of the yellow flycap [Photo Richard Davey]

For those of you who read beyond this post you might encounter the formal terms for the ‘egg’ which is the universal veil because it covers the entire fruit body. The ring or annulus is formally known as the partial veil because it only covers the gills on the underside of the cap.

So what is the yellow flycap? The closest I can find is a collection of species from the west coast of North America collectively referred to as Amanita gemmata var. exannulata – this is a working name rather than a real name. See the photo by Ryane Snow, taken in northern California,  below for comparison.

Amanita gemmata var. exannulata [Photo Ryane Snow ]

Amanita gemmata var. exannulata [Photo Ryane Snow ]

 Clive Shirley, at The Hidden Forest, has a photo of something he suspects is Amanita gemmata. Clive’s fungus differs from this one in having a substantial and obvious ring on the stem.

If you see the yellow flycap please let me know.