Sunday 19 June 2011

#57 Russula persanguinea

Notice the striations around the rim of the cap

A characteristic feature of identification of Russula species is the snapping like chalk of a fresh stem.  A pure white stem of Russula persanguinea will distinguish this species from Russula. aff. rosacea which has a pale pink stem.

Russula persanguinea is mychorrhizal with eucalypt roots and is found in wetter areas of eastern states of Australia, as well as Western Australia. It can be found fruiting at the base of live eucalypts, on the ground where there is buried wood, as well as around the base of dead eucalypt stumps. I am led to believe that it is the only species of Russula that fruits on dead wood, but I have not substantiated this.

Cap (up to about 70mm) is red, convex at first, broadening and flattening with maturity, usually with a shallow central depression where the colour is darker. The cap is viscid (or slippery) when wet, and striated around the rim at maturity. [There are no hints of purple or yellow]  Gills are white, crowded, and all of the same length.  Stem (up to about 70mm) is white, solid when young, and often thickening towards the base.  Spore print is white.

Toxicity: Some Russula species are known to be poisonous, so, although I have found no specific information on the toxicity of Russula persanguinea, it should be avoided.

The wet cap is slippery, the stem widens at base

The central depression in cap is a darker colour

White gills are crowded and all the same length

A wet, collapsed specimen is soggy all over, and pinkish
My sightings of Russula Persanguinea

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Brunkerville, NSW - at base of dead stump in wet mixed forest, Aug 2010, Jun 2011

Wednesday 8 June 2011

#56 Cortinarius archeri

Cortinarius is the largest genus of mushrooms in the world.  Cortinarius archeri is a spectacular species.

The most distinctive feature of Cortinarius is the presence of a cortina covering young gills.  A cortina is a partial veil consisting of a cobweb-like protective covering over the spore producing surface. The cortina disintegrates as the fruit body matures, leaving a ring-zone on the stem, or disappearing altogether. In some species, all evidence of the cortina disappears very quickly.

A secondary feature of Cortinarius is a rusty-brown spore print, therefore the fertile surface of mature Cortinarius are rusty brown.

A beautiful cluster of Cortinarius archeri
Cap: when young, the cap can cover the stem resembling a helmet, but widens to convex, eventually flattening to some degree, often turning under slightly. At first, the cap is viscid (slippery), but matures to dry and satiny, fading to a dirty mauve, often aging to brown. The cap can reach 100mm wide.

Stem: is broad, viscid when young, mauve to white with membranous remains of cortina high on stem, often stained rusty brown with spores.  The wide stem is usually bulbous at the base.

Gills: are of various lengths, mauve when young, staining rusty brown as spores mature.

Habitat: mixed forests of Australia (and possibly other countries), on soil, and is mychorrizal with eucalypts. Cortinarius archeri grows singly or in small tight clusters.

Toxicity: some species of Cortinarius are poisonous, containing the toxin orellanine, so it is unwise to consume any species of Cortinarius. At this time, I have no information either confirming or denying the toxicity of Cortinarius archeri.

Cortinarius archeri emerging from the soil - my thumbnail gives size comparison

A cluster of Cortinarius archeri like little soldiers lined up in their tin hats

The cobweb-like covering still intact covering the immature gills

Young mauve gills tinged with rusty-brown - remains of membranous material high on the stem has collected rusty-brown spores

Gills turn brown as they mature.  They will turn much darker yet.

A beautiful specimen of Cortinarius archeri

My sightings of Cortinarius archeri

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Freeman's Waterhole, NSW - mixed forest May 2011

Wednesday 1 June 2011

#55 Austroboletus lacunosus

Finally some soaking rain in the Hunter Valley, and the fungus season is upon us. I found three new Boletes, one of which I was able to identify without too much trouble - Austroboletus lacunosus (formerly known as Austroboletus cookei), but it doesn't appear to have a common name.

The most distinctive feature of this fungus (and other species of Austroboletus) is the stem which is patterned with haphazard depressions separated by a maze of stringy-textured ridges. The stem is dry and has no ring, is positioned either central or off-centre, with a deep circular depression jutting into the fertile pored service.

Pore openings are large, up to 1mm, starting out pure white, turning pale pinkish brown, and aging to ochre. Spore print is pale pinkish brown. I didn't find any evidence of infestation by insect larva in any of the three specimens I examined.

Cap is convex, generally pale brown, dry and swede-like in texture (can be slippery when young and wet), and up to 150mm diameter. Tissue remnants often form a 'frill' around the rim of the cap. This mycorrhizal fungus occurs in the soil of mixed forests in eastern Australia, and New Zealand. My observations so far indicate that this fungus occurs singly.

Slightly slimy wet cap of fresh fruit body. The stem was about 130mm high

Dry cap, bulging pale pink pored undersurface

White pore surface on young specimen - notice the 'frill' around rim of cap

And notice the deep depression around the top of the stem

White flesh that does not bruise or change colour - deep pore tubes, and off-centre stem

White mycelium

A short off-centre stem on this example. Notice the right-hand side of the fungus is infected with a mould or fungus. Also notice the yellowing of the base of the stem that sometimes occurs

My sightings of Austroboletus lacunosus

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Brunkerville, NSW - mixed forest May 2011

Wednesday 11 May 2011

#54 Cyathus striatus

Although Birds Nest fungi are tiny and inconspicuous unless massed, they are fascinating.

Cyathus striatus is commonly called Striated or Fluted Birds Nest Fungi. The size of fruit bodies varies from 5 to 10mm tall and 4 to 8mm broad.  The exterior infertile surface of the tiny vase-shaped cup is brown to grey, and shaggy.  When the 'lid' or cover of the 'nest' splits and decomposes, the shiny inner surface is revealed.  The interior surface is distinctly grooved or striated vertically, making this species easy to identify.

The 'eggs' in the 'nest' are the spore packages, technically called peridioles.  These hard-skinned shiny grey peridioles are neatly packed into the cup, each having an elastic thread (called funiculus) attached to one end, with a weight (called hapteron) attached to the end of the thread.

Their dispersal technique is remarkable.  The peridole is dislodged from the cup by raindrops, and ejected with the weighted string trailing.  With the help of the weighted end, the string entwines around vegetation or other organic matter, and if all goes well, spores will germinate and invade the substrate.

Alternately, herbivores will consume the peridioles with their fodder, and the spores will pass through the gut of the animal and be excreted, possibly onto suitable substrate for germination.

Cyathus striatus can be found on fallen twigs and bark, herbivore dung, organically enriched soil, and wood-chip mulch.  Besides Australia, it occurs in North America, Canada, Europe, and possibly other countries.

Cyathus striatus on horse dung

Note the brown 'shaggy' exterior, and shiny grey striated interior.

Tightly packed peridioles.  My thumb gives a size perspective.
My sightings of Cyathus striatus

[This will be updated with new sightings]

The Pilliga area of northwestern NSW - Merriwindi State Conservation Area, on horse dung, June 2010; Aug 2010

Medicinal uses:
  • Some antibiotics have been isolated from mycelia of Cyathus striatus - this could lead to treatment of some tropical diseases that are responsible for considerable mortality and morbidity.
  • Anti cancer effects have been found from fungal extracts prepared from Cyathus striatus, showing significant inhibiting effects on certain chemical pathways, suggesting activities worthy of investigation as cancer therapeutics.
Blog entries on other Birds Nest Fungi species:

Wednesday 4 May 2011

#53 Microporus xanthopus

Microporus xanthopus is a tropical species, found on rotting wood and is common from the Australasian, Asian and African tropics, but is absent from the American tropics. 

Microporus xanthopus (pronunciation:  Micro-poor-uss zan-though-puss) has a common name of Yellow-footed Tinypore.

The initial stage of the fruiting body is simply a white fleck on the wood surface. This enlarges into a hemispherical cushion up to a millimeter wide, and elongates to develop the stem.   A wider basal disc, generally called a 'foot' develops, and is often a yellowish colour, hence the name. A funnel-shaped cap (or pileus) expands from the apex of the stem.

Funnel-shaped caps of mature fruiting bodies are thin (1mm to 3mm thickness) and are concentrically zoned in various shades of brown, usually with a pale margin which is sometimes wavy.  The cap can be up to 150mm wide. Caps can hold water.

The fertile under-surface of the cap is white to dull yellow, with  minute pores (8 to 10 per millimeter) and can extend down the stem (decurrent).

The central or off-centre stem can be up to 40mm long and 5mm wide, expanding at the top.

Shiny wet funnel-shaped Microporus xanthopus, concentric zones of shades of brown, with pale, wavy margin

Dry caps have lost their lustre

Not all fruiting bodies form a perfect goblet shape

White fertile lower surface has minute pores.  Notice how the stem widens at the top

Off-centre stems and misshapen caps

Attractive Yellow-footed Tinypore fruiting bodies on rotting wood on the floor of a tropical North Queensland rainforest
My sightings of Microporus xanthopus

[This will be updated with new sightings]

Far North Queensland - rainforest Sept 2009

Uses of Microporus xanthopus:
  • dried and used as ornamentation
  • (apparently) used in Malaysian native communities to prevent infants from breast-feeding.