Don’t be tempted by the beefsteak fungus

With flesh having the texture of raw steak, and exuding a red juice when damaged, the beefsteak fungus might be considered a delightful culinary dish, but the general opinion is that, while it is edible, it is of poor quality – leathery and without any appealing flavour.

A STEAK BY ANY OTHER NAME: The beefsteak fungus is deceptively meaty and appealing in appearance, but don't be fooled.

A STEAK BY ANY OTHER NAME: The beefsteak fungus is deceptively meaty and appealing in appearance, but don't be fooled.

The name comes from its texture and appearance, rather than its taste.

The one pictured was found at Gordon last month. It was around 10 centimetres wide and was growing on a mossy tree trunk 50 centimetres from the ground.

Beefsteak fungus is a semicircular bracket fungus with a porous undersurface. Its top is textured, with radial wrinkles. In appearance it is more like a beef tongue than a beef steak.

Like many fungi, the beefsteak varies in colour according to its age. This one is an older specimen; younger ones are pinker.

It can grow to 25 centimetres across.

It has been described as fairly common, but my experience is that it is uncommon here.

BUSHBIRDS GATHER AT WATER

We might think that water for birds would not be important for birds in winter, but this is certainly not the case at a block of private forest near Clunes.

There we sat by a collection of small pools to watch the late-afternoon arrival of honeyeaters and others that had been promised. Sure enough, the birds came.

It took only one white-naped honeyeater to start things off. Before it had finished sipping, a fuscous honeyeater and a white-plumed honeyeater arrived, darting in from nearby trees and shrubs.

Next were a couple more of each of these, then a couple of larger, yellow-tufted honeyeaters. By this time some of the earlier birds had departed, but the restless activity did not cease. A yellow robin was next, and, to our surprise, a male crested shrike-tit.

All this activity was just a few metres in front of us, as we sat comfortably in a small observation ‘hide’, unseen by the birds around us.

The darting, dropping, flitting and drinking activity was so rapid that it was hard to keep up with the comings and goings of the birds. At one stage there were a dozen birds at the cluster of small pools in front of us. Most were honeyeaters.

The birds are clearly appreciating the water provided for them.

Other birds on this block last weekend included dusky wood-swallow, white-bellied cuckoo-shrike, flame robin, white-browed babbler, black-chinned honeyeater and painted button-quail.

We missed the button-quail, but were glad to learn of the report. This bird is now quite uncommon.