The recent moist Autumn followed by a cool and wet Winter has provided some of the most awesome conditions for fungal activity that I have seen in ages.
I was supposed to be moving a mob of ewes on the weekend, but as I was riding the bike through the long wet grass the bike tyres crunched over the wet, decomposing logs; munching them up like straw in a blender. I couldn’t help cringing, thinking of all the tiny fungal mycelium (thin, hairy root-like structures) and other microorganisms that would be living in, around and under these logs in the root zone.
As I rode through the established Murray pine woodland a bright orange, rusty coloured mushroom caught my eye, so I turned off the bike and approached slowly. I creeped up slowly on my hands and knees to find 4 types of fungus living off a single log. In hindsight, I think the first 2 mushrooms are the same species, Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius) but just found at different stages in their life. a bit further up the log I found a cluster of Mycena species and a large Rose-Gilled Grisette (Volvariella speciosa) close by in the grass.
Being involved with sustainable farming, I am so pleased to see fungi flourishing in our paddocks as they are an indication of the brilliant ecology at work. Most of the species I found belong to the families of fungi that break down organic matter which turns carbon into useable forms of nutrients and habitat for plants. If you see a fungus at your property, get down at eye level and have a look. Be careful not to damage the mushroom because this is the ‘seed’ for the next round of fungal activity. You can share your experiences with fungal biodiversity with us on the Biodiversity Gateway!
Elise Wenden – Project Officer at Holbrook Landcare Network