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The Fungi Kingdom of Sportsman Creek Conservation Area


The Ramaria species usually grow in dense collaroid form, some resemble “cauliflower” shapes. They are known to grow on soils amongst forest litter and it is probable they form mycorrhizal relationships with eucalypts.

Reference and further reading;  Young, A.M.   A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.  P,91-93.

Identified by Nigel Fechner as Laetiporus portentosus  a 400mm wide fungi found growing under Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) on the Island at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge. Compare the size with camera case alongside.

Found fruiting in riparian zone at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.” Chestnut cap and stem, with adnate gills. Milky white sap when cap damaged”. This species forms mycorrhizal relationships with eucalyptus. Distribution unknown.

I.D. Courtesy of Don Gover.

Relatively common fan-shaped fungi found growing on Red Ash in the riparian zone. This species is a “dangerous parasite of trees and can be a major fungal pathogen in rainforest areas. Brackets can last for several years”.

I.D. courtesy of  Don Gover.    Sydney Fungal Society .

Further reading  Young, A.M. Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia. P 73-74.

A reasonably common fungi, but often overlooked in eucalypt woodland. These fungi have a strong pleasant smell, reminiscent of wattle blossom.

I.D. courtesy of Don Gover.

Reference;  Young, A.M.    Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.
















                                The boletes are closely related to the agarics (fungi with gills). Many boletes display colour changes when the flesh is cut, so that whitish or yellowish tissue becomes spectacularly greenish blue due to enzyme reactions triggered by oxygen in the air. Boletes are very important in the Australian bushland as mycorrhizal partners, but they also provide food for the larval stages of many insects.” Image taken in riparian zone at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.

Reference;  Young, A.M.  Field Guide to the Fungi of  Australia.

I.D. courtesy of Don Gover.

Further reference;

” These Stinkhorn fungi are often very beautiful, and their colours and delicate structures amply repay their terrible odours. In the expanded state once the odours are produced, the slime is very toxic. Certain breeds of dogs are attracted to the rotting meat odour and some deaths of Australian dogs can be attributed to stinkhorn fungi.”

Reference;   Young, A.M.   A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.

Found growing on living Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis) along the riparian zone at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge. ” …with extremely hard fruiting bodies this genus is common and widespread. There are probably over 25 species of Phellinus in Australia.”

Reference;  Young, A.M.    A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.

” More than 20,000 is a better approximation (of Australian fungal species) and perhaps one quarter of our macrofungal species has been documented. Most people are surprised to learn that not only do the higher fungi play an essential role in Australian bushland ecology, but without them life on earth as we know it would rapidly cease. In Australia (as elsewhere), mushrooms and toadstools are the silent and essential partners in the woodlands and forests. Without beneficial fungal partnerships with their roots, our gum trees and related plants cannot survive. The macrofungi are critical food resources for many of our native animals, reptiles and inverterbrates but equally important as plant recyclers in these forests.

Without them nutrients would become increasingly locked into non-decaying plant debris; the forest would be choked by fallen logs, branches and leaves and many soils would lose their nutrients and leaves.

Mycology (The Study of Fungi)

Fungi are not plants. Not all fungi have “stems” and none have roots, leaves, flowers or the green photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Without chlorophyll, no fungus can manufacture it’s own food and must obtain nutrients from bodies of other organisms.

“Macrofungi” – the fungus itself resembles a tangled mass of tiny white thread that penetrate the material on which the fungi is growing and, if it could be removed from the wood or soil, it would look like a mass of cotton wool. This tangled mass is called  MYCELLIUM . When the mycellium has enough stores (of nutrients) and weather conditions are right it produces the fruiting body; the mushroom or toadstool or other structure. The fruiting body is used to produce spores which are dispersed by the air, water, animals and sometimes by the fungi itself.

Mycorrhizal Relationships

There are a number of  fungal species that form special partnerships with the roots of shrubs and trees. Wattles, Casaurinas and Eucalypts all form mycorrhizal relationships.

So how does it work?        Well, under good conditions, a fungus can grow its hyphae (the white threads) out into the soil very quickly and therefore it can respond much faster to rain than can a plant. The fungus is very good at collecting water and mineral nutrients from the soil, which brings it back to its tissues inside the plant roots. The plant can then absorb some of the water and minerals from the fungal tissues, and in this way the fungus behaves like a very efficient extension of the plant roots. In return, the fungus obtains food and shelter from the plant.

Fungi as an Animal Food Resource.

The lives of many Australian animals are linked to fungi. First, large populations of inverterbrates use fungi as a food resource. Australian reptiles use fungi as food just how many is not yet known. Australian mammals consume macrofungi extensively. Small Wallabies, Bettongs, Bandicoots, Wombats, Possums, Bilbies and Kangaroos have all been recorded eating various species of macrofungi”.

Reference;  Young A.M.  Field Guide to Fungi of Australia.

Dr. Tony Young is regarded as one of the foremost experts on Australian Fungi.

“The Curry Punk is a widely known species on dead eucalypt trunks. The strong curry-like odour is very distinctive, and the saffron orange juice has been used very effectively to dye wool. Old, lightly charred, dead trunks left by bushfires often produce large numbers of fruiting bodies”.  As found at Sportsman creek wildlife refuge.

Reference;  Young,  A.M.    A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia.

I.D. courtesy of  J & P. Edwards.

An exploration into...
By Jeff Keyes