Mt Bruce is a legendary in New Zealand biology as it was the place that the takahe, thought extinct but rediscovered in 1948, was brought back from the brink of extinction. It also legendary as being one of the last remnants of the Seventy Mile Bush. The Seventy Mile Bush was a name I occasionally came across but didn’t fully appreciate what it was until I started reading about William Colenso and his mycological collecting there:
IN the autumn of this year I again sent a lot of Fungi to Kew, London (with other plants, both Phænogams and Cryptogams), which I had discovered at various times during the last four years in my visits to the dense forests and deep glens of the Seventy-mile Bush district, County of Waipawa [Colenso, 1890]
A forest lost
The Seventy Mile Bush was a huge area of dense forest stretching from Masterton to central Hawkes Bay and across the east coast. Most of it was cleared for farming. In the 1870s the New Zealand Government bought the 942 ha Mt Bruce block as a forest reserve [administered by the Forest Service], with 55 ha being designated a native bird reserve under the control of the Wildlife Service. The government restructures of the late 1980s saw many of the government agencies responsible for conservation rolled into a single Department of Conservation which became responsible for the reserves.In 2001 the entire Mt Bruce block, of 942, was reunited into a single reserve. And then in 2013 its running passed to a community based charitable trust – The Pukaha Mount Bruce Board is a charitable trust.
In late February of this year Pukaha Mount Bruce held a bioblitz. I was going to go and help along with some other mycologist, Barbara Paulus and Di Batchelor. But because of the drought we decided it would better to wait until the autumn. Barbara and I finally got to there 5 June and here is what we found that day [note that I still have some work to do on the identifications].
Mycena sp. in tawa forest – on fallen log. Note: Maybe close to Marie Taylor’s Mycena dorotheae.
Mycena pura (?) in tawa forest growing in leaf litter.
Hypholoma acutum in tawa forest on fallen log. Note: Rubbish photo, sorry.
Hypholoma brunneum in tawa forest – on fallen log. Note: on same log as Hypholoma acutum.
Mycena roseoflava in tawa forest – on stump.
Nidula candida in tawa forest – on fallen wood.
Gyronemma sp. in tawa forest – on rotten tree fern rachis.
Armillaria novae-zealandiae in tawa forest – on fallen logs.
Favolaschia calocera in tawa forest – on fallen brances. Note: The orange colour has washed out in the photo.
Crinipellis procera in tawa forest – on leaf and twig litter.
Hygrophorus sp. in tawa forest amoungst litter.
Psathyrella sp. in tawa forest – on leaf litter.
Mycena mariae or parsonsii (?) in tawa forest – on stump.
Not sure what this is yet. In tawa forest in litter.
Xylaria sp. in tawa forest on a fallen log.
Hygrophorus sp. in tawa forest in litter.
Coral fungus in tawa forest amoungst litter. Note: I need to do some work on this yet.
Cyathus novaezelandiae in tawa forest on fallen wood.
Coprinellus disseminatus in tawa forest – on stump.
Morganella compacta in tawa forest – on fallen log.
Leratiomyces erythrocephalus [= Weraroa erythrocephala] in tawa forest – in leaf litter.
Conchomyces bursaeformis in tawa forest – on standing dead trunk.
Psilocybe weraroa [= Weraroa virescens] in tawa forest – in leaf litter.
Cortinarius sp. in red beech forest.
Lepiota sp. in red beech forest – in leaf litter.
Hebeloma mediorufum (?) in red beech forest.
Cortinarius rotundisporus in red beech forest.
Russula sp. in red beech forest.
Galerina patagonica in tawa forest – on fallen log.
Chalciporus piperatus in Douglas fir stand. Note: Amanita muscaria also present but very rotten.
Colenso, W. 1890. An enumeration of fungi recently discovered in New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 23: 391-398.
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.