Thursday, 21 August 2014

A new fungus poster - Fungi of the Mount Alexander Region

by Alison Pouliot

Yesterday a poster tube arrived in the post from Bronwyn Silver.  Inside I found the exciting new poster – Fungi of the Mount Alexander Region.

The new poster was compiled by wonderfully knowledgeable field naturalists who live in the Mt Alexander Shire and are involved in the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF).

Fungi of the Mount Alexander Region.
FOBIF was formed in the late 1990s by people in the local community who work towards highlighting the significance of the Box-Ironbark Forests and Woodlands. Among its various goals FOBIF promotes understanding of the natural values of the Box-Ironbark forests and woodlands, their ecosystems and the threats to their preservation.

The poster, which features nine species that occur in the local Box-Ironbark forests was published by FOBIF, with generous financial support from The Norman Wettenhall Foundation. Photographs were provided by John Ellis, Mitchell Parker, Bronwyn Silver, Bernard Slattery and Alison Pouliot.

Further to the fungus poster, these inspired folk have also put together a new book entitled, Mosses of Dry Forests in South Eastern Australia, which was launched by Frances Cincotta on 31 May.  

The poster would be a wonderful addition to every classroom, household refrigerator, or any wall anywhere, to get the message out that fungi are a very important part of our ecosystems including Box-Ironbark forests.

Both the poster and the book are available through the Environment Shop at 325 Barker St, Castlemaine or online at

The poster costs $5- (plus postage).

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Special Issue on Fungi in Wombat Forestcare Newsletter

Special Issue on Fungi in Wombat Forestcare Newsletter
by Alison Pouliot

The members of the Wombat Forestcare collectively hold an incredible wealth of knowledge about the biodiversity of the Wombat Forest, including that of its fungi. Several Wombat Forestcare members are also actively involved in Fungimap and contribute fungus distribution records and participate in Fungimap forays.

There are also those who appreciate fungi in a whole lot of other ways. This special issue of the newsletter contains a collection of encounters with the Wombat Forest's fungi expressed through stories, anecdotes, poetry and images.

The newsletter opens with a contribution by David Minter, the president of the International Society for Fungal Conservation. David commends Wombat Forestcare for its "model of good practice" in "recognising the importance of fungi and the need to protect them".

According to newsletter readers, the Wombat's most alluring fungus is Mycena interrupta, the pixie's parasol. But many other species also attracted interest and readers offered fascinating insights into how and why fungi activate people's interest and curiosity.

For example, Cat Nield chose Mycena interrupta because "These tiny little beauties with their perfect form and amazing colours remind me how much of our forests can go unnoticed and unappreciated. I am fascinated by these delicate miniature fungi hiding in the cracks of a log or perched on a shed piece of bark amongst the litter”.

Kim Percy chose Tremella fuciformis because "The translucent ghost like quality of this fungus takes me to another world. Imagine it as an enormous entity, floating through space or holding it up to the light and seeing the forest through its milky membrane. Its simplicity is its beauty – a spirit being of the forest floor”.

Bronwyn Lay's poetic appreciation of Mycena interrupta beautifully expresses how these tiny forms can so powerfully capture one's heart and imagination.
Mycena interrupta, Image: Alison Pouliot
Mycena interrupta, image: Alison Pouliot

little blue
by Bronwyn Lay

Single small beauty is the forest’s still small voice,
Poised above the earth on crumble wood,
You are turquoise lover trying to give cover.
You bring waves inland so a spot of sea
is seen in the biotic debris.
Petite wonder among the giants,
Your soft canvas holds a regal
head waiting to be taken by the wind.
Until the body breaks its blue
Through soil’s centre.
But for now, in this quiet,
Knowing you will vanish,
I breathe close to spores
Wee colour that feeds the world.
Little friend suspended.
Forgive me,
I think
I might have
in love.

Terrific fungus photos were also received from the newsletter's youngest contributor, Ari Scheltema, aged six years. Others told of unexpected fungal discoveries in the Wombat and the many ways in which fungi are appreciated including their ecological roles, aesthetics, medicinal and edible qualities and how for some, encounters with fungi have inspired an ethic of care.

Enormous thanks to all those who contributed their impressions of the Wombat Forest's fungi.

The newsletter is available as a PDF at the Wombat Forestcare website.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Shelbourne Nature Conservation Reserve Fungus Survey

by Alison Pouliot

Little is known about the fungi that inhabit the box and ironbark forests in north-central Victoria. Only a few records exist in the Fungimap or Living Atlas of Australia databases. Information on the fungi of these ecosystems is therefore very important in contributing to a bigger picture understanding of fungal distributions.

 Piptoporus australiensis (Photo © Kyle Murphy)

Keen fungus surveyors from three Landcare groups 
and Bendigo TAFE (Photo © Jane Mitchell)
Last week a group of ultra-keen fungus surveyors took to the Shelbourne Nature Conservation Reserver to see what fungi are emerging following the first autumn rains a couple of weeks back.  The group represented three different Landcare groups (Nuggetty, West Marong and Upper Spring Creek) as well as students from the Conservation and Land Management Course at Bendigo TAFE. The students have been looking at different forest management regimes that incorporate burning and ecological thinning as well as mapping exercises of fungal distributions.

Omphalotus nidiformis (Photo © Jane Mitchell)

Austropaxillus infundibuliformis (Photo © Jane Mitchell)
Although the rains hadn't penetrated much beyond the upper leaf litter layer, twelve species were recorded including Austropaxillus infundibuliformis group, Omphalotus nidiformis, Laccaria sp., Crepidotus sp., Stereum hirsutum, Trametes versicolor, Piptoporus australiensis, Pisolithus sp., Geastrum fornicatum and three lichens: Parmelia sp., Flavoparmelia sp. and Cladonia sp.

Despite the precarious future of Landcare it was encouraging to see Landcare members so keen to understand and document the fungi of these forests. The survey followed three fungus workshops held in Lockwood South, Baringhup and Woodstock on Loddon over the last two months.

Huge thanks go to the indefatigable Judy Crocker from the Mid Loddon Conservation Management Network and Upper Spring Creek Landcare Group for recognising the important ecological role of fungi in these forests and for organising the survey.