This autumn has been warm and dry and the forest floor has sprouted all kinds of fabulous fungi.
I’ve done my best to identify them but there are many, many fungi in our forests so if I got the name wrong, I’m sorry and would be grateful if you would correct me.
This one is a puffball. It forms pores at the top through which the spores puff out with pressure from wind gusts. Lycoperdon are usually found in leaf litter and are similar to the white ones you find growing on your lawn.
The best known and possibly the largest group of fungi are gill fungi. Think mushrooms and toadstools. On the underside of the cap, spores are formed on radiating flanges known as gills. These ones are likely to be an Armillaria, they parasitise trees.
Cortinarius is the largest genus of mushrooms in the world, containing over 2000 different species. When young they have cortinas covering their gills. Cortina is a form of partial veil consisting of a cobweb-like protective covering over the immature spore-bearing surfaces. Cortinas on some species just disappear; others collapse against the stem forming a ring zone. Due to the serious dangerous toxicity of several species, non-expert consumption of mushrooms from this genus is discouraged.
Mycena interrupta is a tiny, fragile fungi with a translucent blue cap. It appears in small colonies on rotting, moist wood in rain forests and beech forests.
Another gill fungi, I don’t know what variety this one is. It’s about the size of my palm with a dark, almost black rubbery cap.
Favolaschia calocera, the orange pore fungus was first observed in Madagascar, but has since spread to Australasia and Italy. Although an attractive mushroom, it is considered invasive in New Zealand, and may be displacing native fungi.
Do you know what this is? Could it be Isaria sinclairii, the vegetable cicada? Its spores attack insects like cicada larvae. The fungus feeds on the nymph’s insides until it completely fills its body cavity. Ew! After the larvae die beneath the soil surface the fungi then sends a stalk up from the surface. The stalk is topped with white spore-bearing structures which release powdery white spores. These spores fall to the ground ready to infect other cicada nymphs.
Interestingly, this fungus has yielded a new prescription drug for multiple sclerosis. It has immunosuppressive properties and was the first oral disease-modifying drug for multiple sclerosis.
There are many more fungi species in the forest from the tiny ephemeral ones we barely notice to dinner plate sized bracket or shelf fungi that stick out like ears on the trunks of trees. They all have their part to play in the eco system.