Greg Lukes from Friends of Escarpment Parks alerted me to some unusual fungi seen by volunteers in Hart-mann Reserve. By the time I saw them they had deteriorated as they often don’t survive for long, but they must have been spectacular when fresh.
Boletes are a group of mushrooms which (mostly) don’t have gills, instead having thick spongy caps with vertical tubes to hold the spores – on the underside you will see just the ends of the tubes, which look like pores. There are many different species of Bolete, some smaller and delicate, and others very large and tough. I am unable to identify the ones I saw at Hartmann Reserve, but they are probably all the same species as they grew in a group under a large Eucalypt close to the fence on Rowbotham Street. The mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a fungus which grows in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. Many Boletes turn blue when bruised, while others show a reddish stain. Boletes are popular with insects, slugs, snails and larger animals, so many have nibbles or holes in the caps, as this one does. It was about 150 mm. across.
The underside of this large mushroom would have been a dull gold, but this Bolete and others nearby had been attacked by a second fungus with the common name “The Fungus Eater”, Hypomyces chrysospermus, which forms a white and bright yellow coating and rots the Bolete.
Insects also eat and breed in Boletes – inside the rotted stem of one, along with the white Hypomyces chrysospermus, were several grubs.
This smaller (60mm) and newly emerged Bolete growing close by is probably the same species,and shows the bluish bruising on the underside.
Hartmann Reserve is a valuable area which supports all kinds of life forms. I regularly visit, and have found more than a hundred species of insects there, as well as other creatures.
A big thank you to those who donate their time and effort to control weeds in the park – you do a great job!
Perhaps Hypomyces chrysospermus is a match for the fungi
speaker at August’s meeting, Jan Veacock. The various species
of Boletes on which it feeds have a wide variety of cap colours
ranging from very dark to pale. They can be large or small, and
are often very fleshy with thick, short stems. In a group they
could well look like small stones. When Hypomyces attacks,
it covers the fungi with white fuzz, while under the white fuzzy
surface a brilliant egg-yolk yellow substance replaces theinternal structure of the hosts before it rots into a slimy mush.
(Photos by Glenda Walter also.)