He harore rangi tahi

He harore rangi tahi – a mushroom only lasts a single day *

What might be true for mushrooms is not true about emails and txts. Here are some of the fungi that people have asked me about.

Wellington Botanic Garden 10.07.2016

Lea Robertson asked if I had seen the bolete under the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), below the herb garden, at the Wellington Botanic Garden. I wandered up there at lunchtime and there was a good, but now slightly old, flush of Suillus luteus [slippery-jack bolete].

Suillus luteus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Suillus luteus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wellington’s Central Park 01.07.2016

Lea had asked earlier about an ‘earthball’ she had seen in Wellington’s Central Park. The photo she sent was a typical Scleroderma verrucosum. See more photos of Scleroderma verrucosum in my earlier blog.

Scleroderma verrucosum [photo Lea Robertson]

Scleroderma verrucosum [photo Lea Robertson]

Woodchips 24.06.2016

Eoin was seeking an identification of an LBM (little brown mushroom) he found growing on woodchip in his back garden. He described it as ‘tan brown with a wee nipple on top’, and stem as the ‘same colour as the cap’. Identifying LBMs is always a challenge especially from a photo. My best guess was it was a Galerina species, as they were fruiting in my garden at the same time. I thought it might be somewhere around Galerina nana.

Galerina sp. [photo Eoin]

Galerina sp. [photo Eoin]

Galerina sp. [photo Eoin]

Galerina sp. [photo Eoin]

Island Bay 13.06.2016

Olwen Mason reminded about the purple funnelcaps [Lepista nuda] that came up in here Island Bay garden in 2014 and that there were more now. She said that they weren’t as purple as last time and wondered whether they would colour-up as they aged.

Waikanae 11.06.2016

Brian Ward asked if I could identify the mushrooms that come up in his Waikanae garden (Kapiti coast) each year. He said that they grew in the plum and oak leaf litter. Brian also said that they were identical to ones he saw under totara trees in Otaki.

Brian had made an attempt at an identification using books and thought maybe it was a ‘chantarel’. Given the typical gills run down the stem (decurrent) it wasn’t too bad an attempt. He also admitted that he had eaten them in previous years without ill effects. It is what we have been calling in New Zealand the cloudy funnelcap [Clitocybe nebularis].

Clitocybe nebularis [photo Brian Ward]

Clitocybe nebularis [photo Brian Ward]

This is the best fit for the New Zealand species but it might yet prove to be something else especially as molecular studies are carried out in Europe. In Europe, Clitocybe nebularis is considered edible.

Clitocybe nebularis [photo Brian Ward]

Clitocybe nebularis [photo Brian Ward]

Waitarere 9.06.2016

Jim Waters sent me his observations on fungi in pine plantations at Waitarere Beach. “As indicated the display has been impressive over the last few weeks. I was particularly interested in the brown upright rubbery fungi with sort [of] two part, almost like leaves, growing … all round one Pinus radiata stump.” This threw me for a bit but I’m pretty sure that it is a false morel [Gyromitra infula] which Michael Kuo at MushroomExpert.com describes as “broadly lobed cap is usually pinched into two lobes, creating a saddle-shaped appearance”.

Gyromitra infula [photo Jim Waters]

Gyromitra infula [photo Jim Waters]

Jim also said “I thought the very small white fungus in another stump looked like the recently infamous Split gill but was not sure. Very small (3-4mm) and looked very like a very small piece of the head of cauliflower, until it is turned over as demonstrated.” And yes I agree with Jim’s identification – split-gill [Schizophyllum commune].

Schizophyllum commune [photo Jim Waters]

Schizophyllum commune [photo Jim Waters]

“The third one was the large “puff ball” like structure which looked as if it had started to deflate, but very big.” And the puffball is the skull puffball [Calvatia craniiformis].

Calvatia craniiformis [photo Jim Waters]

Calvatia craniiformis [photo Jim Waters]

References

* Makareti, 1938. The Old time Maori. Victor Gollancz, London

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Moreen Naidu

I’m writing this blog too because of the collision of a woman, Moreen Naidu, her family and a fungus – Schizophyllum commune [split-gill].

Moreen Naidu’s body has been aggressively colonized by Schizophyllum commune. And it is a battle she is not going to win. I encourage you to read Deidre Mussen’s story about Moreen and her family.

What is Schizophyllum commune?

Schizophyllum commune is a very common wood decay fungus that occurs all around the world. It is also very common in New Zealand and I have often reported it, in this blog, from Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

Schizophyllum commune (Photo Don Horne)

Schizophyllum commune (Photo Don Horne)

Peruvian sleepers

Back in 2012, I wrote about the importation of the six million railway sleepers for use in the New Zealand rail network of which 7000 (0.12%) were decaying. These sleepers had come from Peru and the decay was first thought to be caused by Schizophyllum commune. It is a common fungus on wood and frequently intercepted at the ports on imported pallets, packing cases and dunnage.

In itself, Schizophyllum commune was not of concern at the time but testing showed the presence of at least two other species not known to occur in New Zealand.

Mesophile

Again in 2012, I wrote about the temperature requirements of fungi. Some fungi that do not grow at either low temperatures or at high temperatures above 45°C are known as mesophiles. Their optimum growth is usually between 25° and 37°C.

These contrast with thermophiles that can grow at high temperatures (45°C to 75°C) with an optimum between 55°C and 65°C and little growth below 40°C. True thermophiles are unable to grow at temperatures below 20°C.

Amongst the mesophiles, there are species which border being thermophiles and can live in the higher temperatures of decomposing compost and hay bales. Schizophyllum commune is one of these and is routinely reported growing from decomposing, plastic wrapped hay bales. Below is a temperature graph for Schizophyllum commume with an optimum growing temperature in the mid-30s.

Temp graph

As a human pathogen

The first report of Schizophyllum commune as a human pathogen was in 1950. This does not mean that it was new pathogen but probably it simply hadn’t been recognised as such until then. Anuradha Chowdhary and her colleagues reviewed the 71 known cases in 2012. Of these 45 cases were infections of the air passages and lungs, 22 whereof the sinuses, and 4 had other infection sites such as the brain. This suggests that the fungus gains entry to the human body from inhaled spores.

Cases of infection have been reported from Japan (33 cases), Iran (7), US (6), and 1-4 cases from 12 other countries including one each from New Zealand and Australia. A large number of cases in Japan probably represents a better awareness of the disease in that country rather than any other factor.

Why some people are susceptible to colonisation by the fungus is not known. Some of those affected are immunocompromised but this is not consistent.

Shizophyllum commune culture [from Swain, Panigrahy, and Panigrahi, 2011]

Shizophyllum commune culture [from Swain, Panigrahy, and Panigrahi, 2011]

Your health and safety

While it is not possible to avoid inhaling fungal spores, because they are everywhere, it is important to try an avoid inhaling clouds of spores liberated from actively decomposing organic matter. For instance, the advice given by Workplace New Zealand for those working with soil, compost and potting mix [to avoid Legionnaire’s disease] is applicable to any material that is being actively decomposed by fungi. Workplace New Zealand’s advice is:

  • Store bags of potting mix out of direct sunlight. When stored in the sunlight, the temperature inside the bags can range from 20-40˚C, making it ideal for Legionella bacteria to grow [as well as fungi].
  • Water gardens and composts gently, using a low-pressure hose.
  • Open bags of composted potting mix slowly, directing the opening away from your face.
  • When potting plants, wet the soil to reduce dust.
  • Wear gloves when handling soil, compost or potting mix.
  • When working in greenhouses, potting sheds or indoors, make sure that the working area is well ventilated.
  • Wash your hands carefully after handling soil.
  • If these precautions aren’t practicable, think about wearing a disposable particulate respirator (not a nuisance dust mask). When worn properly, the double-strap type with nose clip (for secure face fit) should give good protection.

Further Reading

Chowdhary A, Randhawa HS, Gaur SN, Agarwal K, Kathuria S, Roy P, Klaassen CH, Meis JF 2012. Schizophyllum commune as an emerging fungal pathogen: a review and report of two cases. Mycoses 1-10, doi:10.1111/j.1439-0507.2012.02190.x

Mussen D 2016. Wellington mother of three terminally ill from rare wood fungus infection. 12 May 2016. Stuff.co.nz

Swain B, Panigrahy R, Panigrahi D. 2011. Schizophyllum commune sinusitis in an immunocompetent host. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology 29: 439-442

Workplace New Zealand 2014. Legionnaire’s disease: What you should know if you work with soil, compost and potting mix. Information and Guidance

PS 17 May 2016

It is with sadness I note that Moreen died 14 May 2016.

Mussen D 2016. Wellington mum-of-three dies of rare wood fungus disease. 17 May 2016. Stuff.co.nz

Otari – Wilton’s Bush Fungal Foray 2014

Previous Otari-Wilton’s bush forays: 2011, 2012, and 2013. Below are photos and comments on fungi seen over the last two days, 26-27 April.

Porcelain slimecap [Oudemansiella australis] and wood-ear jelly – These species were growing on dead karaka trees, read more here. Most of the dead trees were heavily colonised by the wood-ear jelly but one was largely colonised by porcelain slimecaps.

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Olive-stemmed helmet [Mycena olivaceomarginata] – This is a small grassland species.
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Red-edged roundhead [Psathyrella corrugis] – No photo but read more about this species here [as Panaeolus sp.].

Grey-gilled chalkcap [Russula inquinata] – This a mycorrhizal species found growing in association with black beech [Nothofagus solandri]. Taste is a useful characteristic to separate Russula species tasting either acrid/hot/peppery or mild. The grey-gilled chalkcap is mild.

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Cocoa bolete [Tylopylus brunneus] – The cocoa bolete will, if in good condition blue when bruised or cut (see here).

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Sociable inkcap [Coprinellus disseminatus] – Growing on a beech stump.

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Smooth parasol [Leucoagaricus leucothites] – This species was growing in a garden mulched with gravel. There are a couple of photos of the smooth parasol I took in Marlborough last year here.

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Ruby helmet [Mycena viscidocruenta] – This small red Mycena was growing on woodchips. Young fresh specimens have a clear layer of slime on their stems but this disappears as the mushrooms age or if conditions are dry. The ruby helmet also occurs in Australia and there is an excellent photo, by Heino Lepp, at the Australian Botanic Gardens’ Australian Fungi website (here).

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Brown birdsnest [Crucibulum laeve] – Growing on woodchip.

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Fluted birdsnest [Cyathus striatus] – This larger birdsnest is easy recognised by the dark brown hairy cup with a shiny fluted interior. This is the first record of this species at Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

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Fragrant parasol [Lepiota  cristata] – Growing in woodchip and the first record of this species at Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

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A webcap [Cortinarius sp.] – This species took me by surprise by growing in a gravel bed as it is a mycorrhizal genus. A quick look around showed several kanuka trees within a couple of meters.

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Scarlet roundhead [Leratiomyces ceres = Stropharia aurantiaca] – Read more about this species here.

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A parasol [Lepiota sp.] – One of many species of Lepiota present in New Zealand.

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A shanklet [Marasmius sp.] – This was growing on the bark of a living kahikatea [Dacrycarpus dacrydioides] in the podocarp / kauri grove by the information centre.

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Garlic shanklet [Mycetinis curraniae] – Read more about this species here.

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A parasol [Lepiota sp.] – Another parasol in need of a name.

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A mushroom [Agaricus sp.] – we recorded this unnamed Agaricus species for the first time at the 2013 foray. It was growing about 3 meters away, on the opposite side of the board walk from where it was found last year (see here).

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Olive honeycap [Armillaria novaezelandae] – The olive honeycap was growing on a moribund tree in the Fernery.

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Harefoot inkcap [Coprinopsis lagopus] – growing in wood chip mulch.

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Split gill [Schizophyllum commune] – this little wood decay was growing on logs used to edge the paths in the Fernery.

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Wood-ear jelly [Auricularia cornea] – Read more about this species here.

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Orange poreconch [Favolaschia calocera] – Read more about this species here.

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A parasol [Lepiota sp.] – small pure white parasol found in the bush.

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Bush shank [Heimiomyces neovelutipes] – I have recorded this species several times over the last two years growing on the same log.

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Bluing pouch [Psilocybe weraroa = Weraroa novae-zelandiae] – We have known this little dirty white pouch fungus as a species of Weraroa for about 50 years. recent molecular research has seen this genus disestablished and its member species scattered amongst other genera. The placement of this species in Psilocybes is not surprising given the deep blue bruising that occurs when the cap is damaged as can be seen in the photo.

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Native shitake [Lentinellus novae-zelandiae] – This species fruits routinely on a number of logs in the bush between the fernery and the car park.

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A parasol [Lepiota sp.] – A dark grey to slate blue capped parasol growing in woodchip in the Fernery.

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Common scabbard [Volvariella gloiocephala] – no photo

Still working on this little mushroom. Initially, I tried to shoehorn it into Hydropus ardesiacus but it has a snuff-brown spore print, not a white one so I need to start again. It seemed to be growing on the frass in the centre of this cut stump rather than the wood.

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Cloudy funnelcap [Clitocybe nebularis] – The cloudy funnelcap has been seen several times over the last few years at different places in the bush.

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Tea chalkcap [Russula novae-zelandiae] – I collected this for the first time a week ago  and is recognised by its yellowish brown cap, its  mild taste, and it’s association with kanaka [Kunzea ericoides]

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A doilycap [Pluteus sp.] – I managed to get a very faint but distinctly pinkish/brick spore print from this specimen but not sure what, if any described, species it is.

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Parachute conch [Campanella tristis] – growing on a well-decayed branch in the bush.

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Addendum 4 May 2014

Rita Urry, who was on the foray, sent me the following photos which she took at Otari the following weekend.

Orange poreconch [Favolaschia calocera]

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Icicle tooth [Hericium coralloides]

88 Otari 2014.05.04

Skull puffball [Calvatia craniiformis ] – see here for more information.

89 Otari 2014.05.04

 

Split gills and Peruvian sleepers

Train crossing Paramata bridge, in the Evening Post 3 Oct 1936 (National Library of New Zealand 1/2-065462-F)

There has been a lot of discussion / argument about the management and sale of state-owned assets over the last six months (see bowalleyroad). And over the last month the management of one of these assets, KiwiRail, has been subject to questions in Parliament. These questions have been triggered by a fungus, more specifically fungal decay in timber sleepers.

Decaying sleeper (Photo Sunlive)

Of the six million sleepers in use in the New Zealand rail network of which 7000 (0.12%) are showing some degree of decay. These sleepers were obtained from Peru and initially the fungal decay was attributed to Schizophyllum commune. I have blogged about this species before. It is a common fungus on wood in New Zealand and was frequently intercepted at the ports on pallets, packing cases and dunnage. Sleepers are expected to meet an Australian standard requiring that they last at least 15 years. It is thought that new sleepers already had significant but not visible decay.

Schizophyllum commune (Photo Don Horne)

Since the mid-1990s wood has been considered as a possible pathway for pest insects and fungal pathogens to spread around the world. This has resulted in countries imposing standards for the treatment of wood either chemically or by heating before it is allowed entry. For instances, the Ministry for Primary Production has issued a standard for the treatment of poles, piles, rounds, and sleepers. For instance, new or unused wood items can be fumigated with methyl bromide at 80 g/m2 more than 24 continuous hours at 10°C or heated for 4 hours at a minimum continuous core temperature of 70°C. It can only be assumed that the treatment of these sleepers was not done correctly.

In itself Schizophyllum commune is not of concern to New Zealand however further testing of the sleepers has shown the presence of two other species not known to occur in New Zealand. Which species has not been said?

Historically there has always been a preference to use jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) as it is very durable and resistant to decay, even in wet and weathered situations, making it a choice structural material for bridges, wharves, railway sleepers and telephone poles. Less durable timbers have also been used by treating them with chemicals.

Felling jarrah near Jarrahdale, Western Australia (Photo Battye Library)

Controversy over sleepers is not new and during the 1913  New Zealand Royal Commission on Forestry the commissioners examined alternative timbers for use as sleepers and chemical preservatives. One preserving process was Powellisation. According to a report in The Advertiser (Adelaide, 23 February 1914), this process required the sleepers to be boiled in an arsenic and sugar solution.

In The Age (Melbourne, 2 December 1913) there is a report of the Royal Commission’s hearing. Here it is noted that:

The evidence shows that both in the molasses vat for steeping green timber and expelling the sap, and in the drying kilns afterwards, the process needs to be applied with great care.

While he could not express a definite opinion as to its ultimate success or failure, powellisation up to now had been anything but a success.

Powellisation was unsuccessful and the process and the name have been forgotten and it does not appear in any historical reviews on timber preservation.

However the virtues of jarrah were extolled:

The department [of Works] bought as many jarrah sleepers as they could get the Government to import, the cost being 4/9 each delivered. The latter, he considered, was the best timber for durability which they used. In one line 75 per cent. of the sleepers cut from this timber were found to be fit for use after being in the line for 30 years.

The suitability of eucalypt timber and the failure of the Peruvian timber has highlighted the potential to grow eucalypts on a bigger commercial scale then is done presently. One example is the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative which is selecting and breeding eucalypt species suitable for growing on drought- and erosion-prone farmland in Marlborough, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, the Wairarapa and Canterbury.

I have blogged before on the importance of eucalypts in the New Zealand landscape and the fungi associated with them.

Eucalypt, Christchurch botanical gardens (Photo Pinwheel)

Coprinus and the compost bin

Fungi can be placed into one of three rough groups based on their temperate tolerance. These groups are rough in that they overlap and there is no agreement on their boundaries. They are the psychrophile, mesophile and thermophiles.

Psychrophiles can grow below 5°C but may still have a high optimum temperature similar to a mesophile. Many fungi that cause food spoilage in cold stores belong in this group.

Mesophiles do not grow at low temperatures or at high temperatures above 45°C. Their optimum growth is usually between 25° and 37°C. The great majority of fungi fall into this group.

Thermophiles can grow at high temperatures (45°C to 75°C) with an optimum between 55°C and 65°C and little growth below 40°C. True thermophiles are unable to grow at temperatures below 20°C.

Schizophyllum commune (Photo Don Horne)

Amongst the mesophiles, there are species which border being thermophiles and can live in the higher temperatures of decomposing compost and hay bales. Ones such fungus is usually a wood decay fungus, Schizophyllum commune, but which also grows in decomposing, plastic wrapped hay bales. Below is a temperature graph for S. commune with an optimum growing temperature in the mid-30s.

Composting bins can create high temperatures that are favoured by these borderline thermophiles. Here are two of my bins, at the end of last winter (September 2011), which I had filled with mulched perennial cuttings.

Compost bins (Photo Geoff Ridley)

Several weeks after filling the bins they were hot from the decay process and white with fungal hyphae. One morning, 4 September, I lifted the lid on one of the bins and found young expanding caps of what I think is Coprinus macrocephalus. Roger Phillips records it growing on dung-heaps and rotting straw. Coprinus fruitbodies are short-lived typically expanding rapidly in the morning and having collapsed by the evening of a single day.

Photo 1 – 9.24am: Stipes have elongated but the cap is yet to expand.

Coprinus macrocephalus (Photo Geoff Ridley)

Photo 2 – 11.45am: The caps are beginning to open, some radial splitting, and in the tallest one the margin is beginning to roll upwards.

Coprinus macrocephalus (Photo Geoff Ridley)

Photo 3 – 1.34pm: Caps are fully open, with a lot of radial splitting and the margin rolling back.

Coprinus macrocephalus (Photo Geoff Ridley)

Photo 4 – 4.23pm: Where near the end as the caps are beginning to autodigest and liquefy. The caps soon dissolve away and the stipes collapse.

Coprinus macrocephalus (Photo Geoff Ridley)

Why do they autodigest? One suggestion is that the gills bearing the spores are tightly packed so as they begin to liquify and roll back the distance between the gills increases allowing the spores to drop out and be carried away by the wind. There is also the possibility the liquefied tissue, which is black because it is a suspension of spores, adheres to insects that walk through it, and feed upon it, and they can carry the spores away. Read more about this process written by Lepp and  Landsman.

Lepp H 2011. Spore discharge and dispersal in mushrooms. Australian Fungi Website, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian National Herbarium. http://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/spore-discharge-mushrooms.html

Landsman J 2009. The dish on deliquescence in Coprinus species. Cornell Mushroom Blog. http://blog.mycology.cornell.edu/?p=234

 

A mainland island in the making: Kaipupu Point

Kaipupu Point forms the western arm or peninsular that separates Picton harbour from Shakespeare Bay in the Marlborough Sounds. The point has been fenced as the first step in creating a mainland island reserve. For more information goes to www.kaipupupoint.co.nz

The vegetation originally covering the peninsula is largely gone having been cleared for grazing. However, a few pockets of big trees, mainly hard beech (Nothofagus truncata), black beech (Nothofagus solandri), kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa), and tawa (Beilshmiedia tawa) remain on in the south-east and northern end of the reserve. There is also occasional mature kanaka (Kunzea ericoides). The beech and kanaka form ectomycorrhizal association with a large number of mushroom-forming fungi and it is these that form the bulk of the list below.

The following list is the beginning of a fungal checklist for the reserve and represents one visit, 8 April 2012, with Dianne John, and Rachel and Lachlan Ridley. The list will be expanded with future visits.

The List:

Amanita nothofagi (charcoal flycap). This native species is related to the red mushrooms with white spots found under pines and silver birches. Note its scab-like warts, a white ring on the upper stem, and white spores. This was under beech.

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Amanita pekeoides (socked flycap). Another native Amanita, however, it is distinctive by the egg like base from which the mushroom ‘hatches’, the absence of any warts or ring on the stem, the almost herringbone pattern on the stem and the radial stripes on the cap, and white spores. This was under beech.

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Clitocybenebularis’ (clouded funnelcap). This genus is not well known in New Zealand so this is only a tentative identification. The distinctive feature of this is the way the gills run down the stem (decurrent gills), and its white spores. This was seen in a number of places under beech although it is not mycorrhizal.

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Dianne John 25 April 2012

Collybia cockaynei (tan shank). A small pale brown mushroom growing in clusters in the leaf litter. It has white gills and a toughish stem. In beech litter.

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Conchomyces bursaeformis (ivory conch). A fan-shaped mushroom, no stem, growing from rotten wood. It can be white to yellowish and has white gills.

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Coprinus sp. (an inkcap). A leaf litter decay fungi found growing in the middle of the track. It has black spores.

Cortinarius castoreus (velveteen webcap). A very distinctive species with its bright brown, velvety surface, and brown spores. The cap often cracks as it ages and dries. This was with kanaka but there was beech close by.

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Cortinarius sp. (a webcap). There are many undescribed species and this is a reasonably non-descript one. Like the previous species, it has a brown spore print. In the upper stem, it is bright purple, especially when cut. This was under beech.

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Favolaschia calocera (orange poreconch). This little bright orange mushroom on fallen wood is not considered native but can be found fruiting abundantly in native broadleaf podocarp forests in the upper South Island

Galerina patagonica (nippled logger). This is a little brown mushroom that decays wood. It is distinguished by a little nipple-like lump in the middle of the cap and its brown spore print.

Hygrocybe striatolutea (sunny waxgill). This is one of the bigger species of the family Hygrophoraceae of which New Zealand has many brightly coloured species. It can be recognised by its distinctive colour and white spore print. Growing under beech.

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Laccaria proxima (brown deceiver). This little reddish brown species was seen growing along the side of the track amongst grass in the area that has been planted with kanaka. As forest replaces the old pastures this species will disappear.

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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. This was under beech.

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Russula umerensis (magenta chalkcap). This chalk cap has a purplish cap and white stem. This was under beech.

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Tylopilus formosus (velvet bolete).This is a large dark brown to purplish brown bolete with a velvety surface. They usually form large elegant mushrooms but this one is malformed as it was trapped under a beech tree root.

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Tricholomopsis rutilans (plum woodknight). An unexpected find in native bush until I realised that it was growing on decay wood of Pinus radiata. These non-native trees had been poisoned and are now slowly decay on the forest floor beneath the natives. Its likely that once all the pine wood has rotted that this species will disappear from the reserve.

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Schizophyllum commune (split gill). A grey little wood decay fungus that forms overlapping and lobed fans.

These next photos are by Dianne John taken on other visits to Kaipupu

Lactarius clarkei (suede milkcap). This orange coloured mushroom has a suede-like surface and when the flesh is broken it bleeds a white milky fluid hence the name milkcap. The milk becomes less obvious as the mushrooms get older. This is an old mushroom which shows signs of decay and loss of colour. (Photo 19 May 2011)