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.Within a few centimetres of the sticky-bun boletes was the pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens]. See my earlier comment about this species here. 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. 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. Also growing with the birch boletes were common deceiver [Laccaria laccata]. 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. 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. Growing amongst the birch boletes were some small dark brown mushrooms that are a species of webcap [Cortinarius] possible somewhere around Cortinarius rigidus. 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. 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.
The last few weeks have seen a series of cold wet fronts push across New Zealand interspersed with hot dry highs giving a very mixed bag of weather – typical Wellington. As today was such a beautiful day we walked up to the Te Ahumairangi Trig lookout and then down through the town belt, the Northern Walk, to St Mary St, Thorndon.The vegetation of is described in from the Wellington Town Belt Management Plan – June 2013:
Te Ahumairangi (formerly known as Tinakori Hill) is a prominent ridge rising to 300m between the suburbs of Northland and Wadestown providing a backdrop to the central business district and Thorndon. Its height and dark colour make it [the escarpment] a dominant backdrop to inner city high-rise buildings.
The escarpment comprises the steep eastern vegetated hillsides facing the city containing a mosaic of pine forest and regenerating native forest, with deciduous woodland of primarily oak trees below Wadestown Road. On the lower slopes and in some places further up the steep gullies are large infestations of sycamore. The steep topography coupled with the abrupt edge at the base of the escarpment next to Grant Road limits access along this edge. The landscape is in a period of change following the removal of 10.5ha of hazardous trees in 2005 and 2006.
Te Ahumairangi Hill has undergone major changes in vegetation structure as a result of the storms of February and August 2004 that caused severe damage to the existing conifer forest. Over 10.5ha of conifer forest were damaged and subsequently removed. It is essential that during this period of major landscape change the distinct character of the hill is maintained as far as is practicable.
Just below the lookout the track cuts through the remain standing of pines [Pinus raditata]. The weather has stimulated some of the mycorrhizal mushroom species associated with pine to fruit early.Two species were seen fruiting on the damp ground between the edge of the track and the bank. The first was the pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens]. See my earlier comment about this species here. The second species was the sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus]. Read my earlier comments on this species here and here. Having got to St Mary St and Glenmore Rd we walked up the other side of the Valley through the Botanic Garden. Here was a third mycorrhizal mushroom species – the slippery-jack bolete [Suillus luteus].
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.]
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.
Last Friday, 18 May 2012, I went for a stroll with Simon Morton from Radio New Zealand’s This Way Up programme [you can listen to it here]. Simon and I had been emailing back and forth to find a time to get out and look for some mushrooms. However, the cool grey summer followed by a mild dry autumn we have just had meant there had been very little fungal activity. Generally, the best flush of mushrooms occurs when there has been a hot dry summer followed by a cool wet autumn. So it was with a little desperation that I met Simon at the Kelburn cable car entrance to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
We stopped first to look under a silver birch by the Carter Observatory (see my blog about mushrooms to be found under silver birch in New Zealand). There was a single specimen of Lactarius glyciosmus (coconut milkcap). This is a mycorrhizal species found only under silver birch. Mycorrhizal fungi grow around and between the root cells of the silver birch providing mineral nutrients to the host tree in exchange for complex carbohydrates that the fungus cannot make for itself. Together the tree and the fungus have a symbiotic relationship and neither can survive without the other. Species of Lactarius are easily recognised by cutting the tissue of the gills or stem and observing whether a white fluid flowing from the cut. As Simon noted this fluid is like the milky sap from the cut stem of a dandylion. This also appears to be the first record of this species from the North Island.
We then walked down a track towards the Glen which looks to be surrounded by native bush. Growing on a bank on the side of the track was a bolete. Boletes are distinguished from other mushrooms by the presence of pores rather than gills. Boletes are also usually mycorrhizal. I asked Simon to have a hard look at the vegetation around us and although it looked like native bush about four or five metres away was a big old Pinus radiata. The roots of this pine ran all under this piece of bush. The bolete is Suillus granulatus (sticky-bun bolete).
Two other mushrooms I saw that day, but not mentioned on the programme, were growing on grass under another big old Pinus radiata. Here I found some Amanita muscaria (scarlet flycap). I generally expect to see A. muscaria fruiting in March and early April so these are quite late in the season.
The other species is Russula amoenolens (pine chalkcap). Russula and Lactarius look very similar and are closely related but Russula species never bleed milky sap when cut. This is a European name and has been applied to this fungus under Pinus radiata both here and in its native California however, I believe that it will prove to be an independent species rather than the This European species. There is also another very similar species Russula, R. sororia, under English oak in New Zealand.
I mentioned to Simon how I keep specimens of each species for future reference. I do this by first recording the shape and colour of the fresh mushroom and then I dry the mushrooms to preserve them. The dried mushrooms are stored in zip lock plastic bags to protect them from moisture, which would let them go mouldy, and from insects, such as booklice. Piece of the dried mushroom can be soaked in water and examined under a microscope to record microscopic details that I don’t often have time to do when the mushroom is fresh. Having a dried specimen means that I can go back, at a later date, to check my identification if there are any doubts. Dried specimens are housed in a herbarium. New Zealand has two fungal herbaria one at Landcare Research in Auckland and the other at Scion in Rotorua.
I have been out looking for edible mushrooms this autumn without a great deal of success. On Saturday (21 April) I wandered the playing fields of Ian Galloway Park in Wilton and the edge of Karori Cemetery to see what was around. The answer was very little.
Gymnopilus junonius [giant flamecap] – Pohutukawas (Metrosideros excelsa) have been planted around the edges of the playing field however, a number have died and the stumps cut back to ground level. The giant flamecap is a wood decay fungus and are happily fruiting on these stumps at the moment. It is not edible being tough and bitter.
Suillus granulatus [sticky-bun bolete] – a common bolete under pines (Pinus radiata) in New Zealand. Normally slimy when young these specimens have been exposed to the sun and wind and are quite dry. Sticky-buns are considered a good edible mushroom.
The dry weather continues (25 QApril 2012) and mushrooms on Mt Victoria are very few and far between. Along one track, for about 10 metres there was a bank/ track cutting that was shaded from the northerly wind and direct sunlight. The track was at the higher southern end of Charles Plimmer Park and under Pinus radita. The following three species were seen close together in this microclimate.
Chalciporus piperatus [peppery bolete] – Only one fruitbody of this species was seen growing from the bank. A small yellow brown bolete with a peppery taste and therefore not recommended as an edible.
Amanita muscaria [scarlet flycap] – Easily identified by everyone. Although not poisonous it does contain other chemicals that make it not an edible. Sorry about the poor quality of this picture.
Suillus granulatus [sticky-bun bolete] – This was the only substantial find of the day consisting of 5 muhrooms. The caps were damp but not sticky and the upper stems also lacked definite granular appearance seen in the specimen above. A publication in 2010 by Leonard and Batchelor believe that the ‘sticky-buns’ under P. radiata are Suillus subacerbus while only those under P. sylvestris [Scots pine] are the true sticky-bun bolete Suillus granulatus. I’m not convinced and look forward to further work to clarify these species. What every the name of this thing is it is eaten in New Zealand and considered edible.
The only other mushrooms seen just below Mt Alfred where the Hataitai track crosses the crest of the ridge. A single scarlet flycap and a very sticky sticky-bun bolete were growing amongst grass under P. radiata. Seeing the specimen below prompts the question of whether weather, exposure and age might not be the defining factor in determing how granulated the stem eventually becomes rather than there being two species of Suillus.
Since writing the above I have relooked at Leonard and Batchelor’s 2010 paper and Ross McNabb’s paper from 1968 on which it is based. McNabb did not describe any host preference and his list of specimens would not have supported such a conclusion. However he did report a difference in reaction to alkaline solutions (potassium hydroxide and ammonia solutions). He found that a drop of ammonia on the cap S. granulatus slowly darkened and a drop on the cut flesh immediately flushed red then turned lilac. In contrast on the cap of S. subacerbus it turned brown with vinaceous tints, and the flesh slowly turned a faint red to mauve. As from the picture below it can be seen that the flesh immediately flushed red then turned lilac and the cap only slowly darkened. This suggests that this is S. granulatus and that at this point host specificity to Scots pine is not proven.
Leonard P, Batchelor D 2010. Slippery Jack and how to find him. A field key to Suillus species in Australia and New Zealand. Fungimap Newsletter 41: 4-8.
McNabb RFR 1968. The Boletaceae of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 6: 137-176 + 3 plates.