Wood blooms

On stumps of felled or fallen trees and logs from such, this last week of rain has brought forth a cornucopia of fungi blooms of the strangest shapes. These ones look more like tiny shells and amber bluebottles.

Others have the more expected ‘ear’ shape, when not being bubbles, so I can only assume that they are Auricularia Sp. 1; definitely one of the ‘jelly’ fungi.

Yet others are so discoloured and distorted that they look like something regurgitated.

On a similar log in my mini rainforest these more ‘ordinary’ white fungi are what caught my distant eye in the first place.

They are tough and solid, with tiny pores underneath, and also appear to have bubble babies. However, I wasn’t able to identify what they are called.

Not on wood but in the leaf litter was this cute little glistening orange cup, that I think is Amanita xanthocephala.

I find it astonishing that my village backyard just keeps producing surprise treats for the observant eye.

Toxic tempters

On a visit to my friend Sharyn’s rural property, she showed me these cartoon fairytale fungi under the windbreak of introduced fir trees.

No fairies or elves were sitting on these ones, but perhaps they missed the boat when the species (Amanita muscaria) was introduced to the NSW Blue Mountains for its undeniable decorative qualities.

While vivid and pretty, as tempting as a toffee apple or strawberries and cream, this fungus is toxic.

Sometimes unromantically called Fly Agaric, it’s been used as a fly poison. It has now spread to all Eastern states and Tasmania, where problematically it seems to have adapted to the native beech trees (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and may replace the native fungi.

But here the brilliant domes and their expanding plates have also naturalised under the chestnut trees. Note the many fallen spiky, hairy chestnut pods.

My boot gives an idea of the large size as the fungi caps open, fade to brown, and split into fleshy ‘flowers’.

One other foreigner, also brought in for pine trees, lives here with Sharyn’s chestnut trees. Slippery Jack, as it’s known in England, or Suillus Luteus, is visibly slimy and not pretty, but actually is edible. Commonly eaten in Europe, where they peel off the glutinous skin before doing so.

From swamp to stream

Normally I have a view of a swamp, algae covered except where ducks forge a path. It’s the most permanent of a deliberately created wetlands complex of often dry depressions, built for flood mitigation with metal traps to catch debris.

I don’t usually get to see white water or hear it rushing through the forest, yet after a few days of welcome heavy rain, my swamp is transformed as it does its job of moving water.

Weedy sinks are pools, low-lying parts of the forest are semi-submerged and a small creek has found a path through the bottom of my garden.

And I know you’ve probably seen enough of these fungi, but I love that they are so prolific, with new colonies appearing every few days in this wet weather.

Water is Life!

Moisture marvels

We’ve had lovely rain, which caused my garden plantings to literally lift up their heads in gratitude — and to visibly grow, instead of barely surviving.

In between actual wet days, we’ve had damply humid ones, where rain promises/threatens, but remains undelivered. The perfect warm moist weather for fungi.

I love these very visible clumps of fleshy ‘cappuccino’ fungi, so generously clumping through my backyard grass.

But I am delighted to also find this solitary umbrella, minute and almost translucent, nestled amongst some dry thyme stems.

The grass is long, but it’s been too wet to mow. My first fungi have disappeared, and the sun is out, so I mow. Next day I spot three of these caramel crusted drumsticks defiantly claiming pride of place in the shorter grass.

Far less showy are these shy little fungi, soft blobs of cream hiding in the leaf litter.

I welcome them all, these marvels of moisture that seem to come out of nowhere to surprise the observant eye.

It’s nature, it’s life!

Soil surprises

Somewhat disgusting? Totally amazing!

The first slime mould sighting in my new place.

Filaments and networks forming a weird yellowish mass on the woodchip pile.

The colour caught my eye, but only after I’d been stopped by another more familiar slime mould nearby.

I think this is what is often called the Dog’s Vomit slime mould.

Slime Moulds are an extraordinary group of organisms called Myxomycetes — neither plant nor animal nor fungi. There are more than 1000 species of these ‘intelligent slime’ identified.

Apparently they suddenly get together in a mass of protoplasm and ooze along very, very, very slowly, feeding until ready to start producing spore.

The species are all different, but all equally incredible. Nature at its most strange.

If you’ve never come across these ephemeral ‘creatures’, take a look here and here at my Mountain posts when I first met them, where there is more information and links.

And then I spotted these.

Tiny orange fungi, sticks like popsicles with chocolate coated tops, albeit slimy ones.
Around them were dried-up versions of the same, so it seems they do not transform or open out.

I’ve been so focused on what’s in the trees here that I’d forgotten the secret surprises that can arise from the soil.

Winter blooms

Kind of creepily flesh-like, with its pairs of pointy-toed pink ‘legs’ and that gaping orifice;  kind of disgustingly gooey, with those red wet lumps, which yet are almost like the secretions of raw wounds.

The pink fleshy stems add to the plant or animal dilemma (hence the ‘phalloid’ species). But the ‘yuck’ factor increases at this stage of its life, as its spore-slime glistens in the centres, like faecal flowers.

And indeed, from a distance, these fungi do look like red flowers scattered amongst the grass in the paddock. But flies, not bees, are attracted to that brown goo by the ‘rotting meat odour’ of this stinkhorn fungi, Asero? rubra,  commonly called Red Starfish, for obvious reasons. The flies obligingly carry away some spores on their feet to deposit elsewhere and spread the species.

Interestingly, this was the first fungus recorded for Australia, collected by Labillardière in 1792 beside Recherche Bay in Tasmania. He named it for its stellar shape, so why not Astero?? Typo?

The paddock is also blooming with lilac, or mauve if you prefer, in the brief beauty of this fungus before it fades to beige.

It is also plentiful.

My winter wildflower meadow is a wild fungi paddock.

Post-deluge fungi

Wet, wet weather and just enough warmth still in the air to cause a whole new aspect of life to come forth and blossom … fungi.

This beauty unfurled out of the top of a palm stump that has sat there unadorned for two years.

Way down in the paddock, a smattering of white glimpsed from the house, demands investigation. Up close they are cinnamon coated narrow domes as babies, maturing to large cream umbrellas still carrying their cinnamon, as flakes.

Walking back up to the house level, a very large single white blob proves to be one that I know, the stunning parasol, Macrolepiota dolichaula.

Its pure delicacy and detail still amazes me, as does the charm of that faint toasted marshmallow blush on top.

On the soggy house lawn there are drifts of smaller lemony circlets that turn up their edges and flash their gills as they age.

I thank Nature for the unexpected flashes of fungi of whatever colour, size or quantity!

Fleeting fungi

You have to be quick to capture some fungi at their best. This beautiful, delicately stippled and pleated limey-yellow trio appeared one morning in my mint pot at the back door. The next day they had wilted to an unimpressive brown.

About a metre away these little Chinese-hatted soldiers had popped up in another pot.

In the manure/mulch fill around the pot a sprinkling of small milk coffee domes briefly ‘bloomed’.

Above them, several generations were making good use of a dead stump, frilling and flaring in stages, but remaining as they dried, unlike their more ephemeral ground-dwelling cousins.

On the back of the wet

April ended in soft showers and wild storms, sunshowers and sunny patches, gentle grey drizzle and roof-rattling torrents.

We needed the actual water to fill the tanks and keep the creek flowing happily — and to fill my new pond.

But we also received bonuses with this mix of elements. The most striking were the rainbows.

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This one had an echo, a fainter twin following it across the greyness of the watery sky, seemingly separated by a band of darker sky. Or is that an illusion?

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The other bounty is what I have been waiting for all Autumn — the arrival of fungi. Only one so far — and a spectacularly beautiful fungus.

It’s large (that’s my gumboot next to it) a lacy ladies’ parasol, frilled and flocked, white with cream and caramel appliqués on top. I have seen this one before, although not here: Macrolepiota dolichaula.

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Welcome!

Now the rain has passed on and the sun is out, I expect more varieties to pop up. I have my eyes on fungi alert from now on…

Home Fungi

This damp but still-warm weather is clearly enticing all fungi home and abroad to show themselves.

They are the most unpredictable natural phenomena here, along with the slime moulds. I never know what surprise will pop up or where. 

Like the little cluster above forcing its way out at the base of a pole set in concrete. Never seen anywhere here before! 

However, they are in my fungi book, so I  think they are Auricularia cornea, with the quite appalling common name of Hairy Jew’s Ear. Not hairy but velvety. Apparently the Chinese eat them.

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Not far up the hill were two pairs of these: fat and yellow, like Wettex-textured French toast, served with a smear of tomato sauce. They seemed to be flat-topped or even concave, but as they jostled each other for space to emerge, were rather misshapen.

I couldn’t find these in the book.

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But in my vegetable garden was one I had seen quite a few times here over the decades, usually solitary. It’s the appropriately named Red Starfish fungus, Aseroë rubra, belonging to a family with the most unlovely name of the Stinkhorn Fungi. It likes compost.

Foreign fungi

When away from home, I often see fungi that are totally foreign to me and my place. I can’t identify this lot but I’m quite pleased they are foreigners as I found them grossly unattractive, crowding together as if they were feeding on each other.

There were so many they were hard to avoid, and so fleshy that it would not be pleasant to step on one.

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Over two days a whitish substance (spores?) seemed to be eating away at the mass.

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I couldn’t say if nearby red ones were related, but they looked less gross when fresh and red, although they too soon were covered in white.

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The final stage looked like mouldy oranges; not appealing to have all over your lawn!

New slimy visitor

In my yard, amidst the green of grass, the brown of strips of windblown bark or fallen leaves, and the black of wallaby poo, you rarely see the colour yellow. Especially a yellow so bright as to resemble plastic.

Naturally it drew me to closer inspection, which revealed small blobs of desiccated plastic.

Aha! Weird things that suddenly appear out of nowhere? Slime moulds!

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Although I haven’t seen it here, this one appears to be the common Fuligo septica, ‘Flowers of Tan’, ‘resembling a solidifed mass of scrambled egg, often with a small whitish trail leading to it’ says my fungi book. Not that slime moulds are classed with fungi anymore, but I don’t have a book on them alone.

Unlike fungi, they get together on a chemical signal and move, to ingest food like an amoeba.

Curioser and curioser is this world.