About our Fungi
Fungi come in many more forms than those you see on the ground or on trees. You also see it in cheese, as decay in wood, as black mould on curtains, and it grows on humans as ringworm and athlete’s foot (tinea).
Plant based, wood and ground growing fungi are grouped based on form and texture of the fruiting body. Some of the more common forms are Mushrooms (underside of the cap has gills), Boletes (similar to mushrooms but the underside has pores), Pouches, Puffballs, Stinkhorns (noted for their strange form and their smell), Corals and clubs (finger or club forms rising from the ground), Jelly fungi (can be soft and jelly like to tough and leathery), Bracket fungi (found growing on trees), Cup fungi (usually short stemmed), Rust fungi (common on leafy trees)and Insect-killing fungi (these are pathogens of insects and kill them).
The fungi we see are just the reproductive parts which contain thousands of spores that can be spread over a wide area. If you dig under the fungi you will see they have thin thread like strands from the base that spreads out into the soil or host plant.
There are approximately 6,000 catalogued species of fungi in New Zealand and it is estimated that there are about 3,000 to 15,000 still to be recorded.
Some fungi are brightly coloured to help attract insects that disperse the spores.
Good places for fungi include in pine needles, in beech forests, under birch trees, in decomposing wood, and in garden bark mulch. In the Tawa area very good fungi locations are in the Woodburn Reserve and in the Forest of Tawa.
One of the best times to see fungi is in the autumn while the weather is still warm and after some showers.
Many people ask the question “Can you eat this fungi?” Most New Zealanders have been brought up to regard anything other than the white field mushroom as poisonous. Not much is known about the edibility of New Zealand native mushrooms and toadstools. There are several highly toxic fungi known in New Zealand and the toxicity of others is unknown. However there are some edible fungi, many of which were accidentally introduced when the early settlers brought in plants with soil attached. So, unless you are absolutely certain about a fungus, the rule is: DONT EAT IT!
For further information see:
A Photographic Guide to Mushrooms and other Fungi of New Zealand by Geoff Ridley.
A Field Guide to New Zealand Fungi by Shirley Kerr.
Doug Miller 27 April 2021
Below is a gallery of fungi sighted in the Tawa Bush Reserves over time.
These photo’s and accompanying information are kindly supplied by our resident fungi expert Doug Miller.
Let us know if you sight any other interesting fungi!