But, Wow! doesn’t really do justice to this mysterious Kingdom beneath our feet. It has been wet in these ranges for a good month now and it was wet again last Sunday; misty, cloudy, drizzly, saturated leaf litter and undergrowth (though we hardly got wet) – perfect for fungi to flourish and send their mushrooms skywards.
Our original goal was to explore the diversity of fungi, individual types and morpho-groups, in a patch of relatively undisturbed forest on the upper slopes of Mt Strathbogie, but the slippery roads and low cloud put pay to that. So we shifted a little lower down, into the Parlours Ck catchment, near our previous moth night.
We’d planned to walk and describe and collect fungi on the way. We hardly made it 50 m from our base, but for good reason- the more we looked, the more we found!
With help from our fantastic guest and leader, Kate, we saw probably a few dozen different types of fungus (some images below) and described and collected specimens of about ten species. These will be further described, dried and then sent to the mycologists at the National Herbarium of Victoria in Melbourne for ID. A couple of gazebos gave shelter to tables of fungi specimens (and lunch).
As we’ve heard over the last month of Fungi Festival (and here) events, mould, mushrooms, hyphae, puff balls, jellies, all the different forms of fungi, as super-critical to the healthy functioning of not only our forests and natural areas, but the entire planet. The degree of connected-ness that fungi achieve in the living world is truly remarkable, yet mostly unseen, as it happens below the surface. But when fungi decide to reproduce, we get to see what an amazing variety of types there are. Not only that, but their variety of form, colour, size, texture and beauty is exquisite. Go on, get down and have a look.
[Click on an image to watch the slide show. Most identifications are tentative.]
And to finish, a delightful piece of fungi poetry:
THE FOREST’S FLOORS By Luke Heaton
Creeping, seeping, spitting spores
Fungi link the forest’s floors
Living fountains, shifting webs,
Feed the living, eat the dead.