Interest in wild toadstools and mushrooms in our local environment has grown substantially in recent years.
This was demonstrated last weekend, when about 60 people met at Smythesdale for an indoor information session on fungi, followed by a visit to local bushland to see them in the wild.
A few attendees were more interested in the foraging aspect, but most were keen to merely see, identify and appreciate the wide range of species encountered locally.
Australia shares many fungi with other parts of the world, but 73 per cent of Australian fungi species are endemic - found nowhere else. And, as with plants and animals, there are rare and endangered species.
Just one of the many eye-catching species found is shown here. It is one of the mycena group.
We found handsome rich purple toadstools, bracket fungi varying from robust, larger than hand size to tiny 5mm specimens on wet logs, coloured jelly fungi, coral fungi and many more, including introduced truffles on the edge of a pine plantation. Wet logs and wet leaf-litter provided suitable habitat for many species.
Vivid yellow, bright orange, rich mahogany red and every shade of buff, brown and grey were discovered.
Fortunately, there were a few experienced people who could name most of the species encountered.
An exception was a small mottled grey species with a black ring a third of the way in from the edge of its cap. This was new to the experts.
The guidance of experienced observers certainly assisted novices to discover the many species to be found in the small forested reserve.
Cameras were busy throughout the afternoon, recording the wide range of sizes, shapes and colours.
The fungi season seems to be later than usual this year, with many patches of forest not producing the expected amount.
Grey teal, black ducks and black swans are among the first waterbirds to return to a recently wet Lake Learmonth.
There is now a small expanse of water there, but not sufficient depth for swans to swim. They are walking in the shallow water and grazing the plants that have survived the summer.
Other wetlands and swamps are attracting waterbirds too, with four brolgas recently reported in the Beaufort district, and a black-tailed native-hen at Mullawallah Wetlands at Cardigan.
Last month, a group of 40 Australasian shovelers was seen at Lake Burrumbeet. This is a large flock of this species, which is usually found in groups of less than a dozen.
NATURE QUERIES ANSWERED
I found this beautiful purple fungi at the base of an Azara microphylla (vanilla tree), and another patch nearby, next to a rock. I have never seen it here before in 27 years.
Your attractive frilled mauve fungus is an introduced one known as silverleaf fungus or Chondrostereum purpureum. It is a type of bracket fungus.
Not common locally, it appears to be found only on or near introduced broad-leaf trees, and its presence on branches and trunks usually ends up affecting the leaves.
Silverleaf fungus is named because it causes host leaves to change from green to silver. The presence of the fungus does not necessarily indicate imminent death of the host tree, although the process is described as progressive and often fatal.
- Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org