The Blob

On my way out the other day I noticed  a bright yellow blob on the bark of a fallen tree by the gate. Must get a photo of that, I thought — but I forgot for few days.

When I returned with the camera, the bright yellow had turned orange, with older purple edges and only small oozings, awfully like custard — or worse — showed yellow.

Now I had not seen this before, but from previous investigations into another of the family, I knew it must be a slime mould, Myxomycota. They’re not fungi but tend to be lumped with them.

I had been fascinated that they move about like amoebae, reproducing into perhaps thousands of ‘daughter cells’; then, at some sort of chemical signal, they all get together and make a larger organism.

Some species make such large organisms that a horror movie, The Blob, was inspired by them. 

This is one of the most common, worldwide, I had read. It’s in my fungi book as Fuligo septica, with the common name of ‘Flowers of Tan’, but the much less poetic and more apt names I found to be most common elsewhere were ‘Dog vomit mould’ or ‘Scrambled egg mould’!

Field fungi

Visiting a friend recently I spotted a solitary white ‘mushroom’ in the middle of their grazed paddock. It looked like the elegant parasols I have had at home sometimes.

I took the camera over to investigate; the inquisitive sheep followed me.

It’s an especially beautiful fungus, frilled and flocked and so purely white as it is. It always makes me think of demure young ladies in Victorian times. It is Macrolepiota dolichaula and I believe it’s quite common. Some people eat it without ill effects; others find the opposite; others, like me, don’t want to find out.

Only a week before I had stopped to see what these huge fleshy fungi were, in an overgrown roadside area, normally mown. There were about a dozen of them.

I’d photographed them but not looked them up. The central peak, the ‘umbo’, looked like lightly browned meringue.

Now I realise they were probably the same as the one my sheep fancied, but because they were turning upwards, probably older, they looked more substantial, not parasol-like at all.

The patch is now mown and no trace of the colony exists. I wonder if the mowing man felt reluctant to slice through them?

Tree dwellers

Collecting kindling, I happened to walk around the back of the big tree whose roots cradle my ‘insulator’ bird water bowl on the other side.

From the different perspective, the early morning sun illuminated something incongruously light-coloured high up on the rough brown trunk.

It was a fat fungus but I could see little detail until the light was brighter.

Even then, it was hard to see over the top of it, and what I photographed didn’t match anything in my fungi books.

Luckily I knew where to go: Gaye’s fungi blog. I looked down her list of fungi by colour. ‘Beige (without gills)’ I thought was a good bet.

And there it was:

‘Laetiporus portentosus, commonly called White Punk, forms large, thick brackets on living Eucalypts. It causes white heart-rot to the host tree… Brackets can reportedly reach 350mm wide… The upper surface of the fungus has a slightly ‘velvety’ texture and can be off-white, beige, to a warm ‘biscuit’ brown colour — the pock-marked under-surface is riddled with tiny larvae’.

 There’s more on her site — Gaye’s knowledge is first-hand, first-rate and a boon to people like me who are interested but not very informed.

I am a little worried about the ‘heartrot’ she mentions, given that this tree is already host to a few young Native Cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis) trees, which are parasitic on the roots.

However, while I was around this rear side, I saw a fresh view of one tree dweller that won’t be harming it.

The orchid buds that I photographed at its base not so long ago have shot up into leggy adolescents, sheathed in white silk.

Nature is full of surprises.

Paddock perfection

Can you imagine anything more purely beautiful than this fungus? It had popped up in the the orchard paddock and was gleaming white at me across all the soggy green. There was another further up the hill.

Each was alone in its perfection, a setting befitting the creation.

It is Macrolepiota dolichaula, I discover, and am surprised it is ‘very common’ in eastern Australia. What a wonderful world where such beauty is common! My examples are about 150mm diameter across their snowily tufted tops, below which the dainty picot edges set the parasols off beautifully.

The central peak reminds me of a meringue, slightly crazing as it cooks to pinkish brown. My book reckons some people eat these regularly but others ‘suffer stomach upsets’. I think I’ll be content to feast on the sight alone.

Special effects

Living on a mountain, my eyes are directed as often to the skies as they are to ground level.

Clouds fascinate me — and I’m not alone — as the wonderful Cloud Appreciation Society website shows.

I especially love it when massive cloud banks like this one, snagged on the mountain range, are lit by a sunset still existing somewhere over the horizon, but gone from here.

My place is almost dark, yet up there in the skyworld the clouds see further, chase the glow and capture it as a very special solar lighting effect.

Yet I have to keep my eyes on the ground as well. The constant surpises in nature here range from the sublime to the minute.

This almost translucent little beauty emerged to stand, solitary, simple and fragile, in the midst of the whole ‘lawn’ beside the house.

Two days later it is still there and still solo. To me it seems brave and hopeful, but then I’m a romantic.

Fungi frenzy

A spell of rain, summer heat, and we have steamy weather that signals to fungi to explode.

The first day of sun I walked up the track, feeling sure I’d see some new fungi.
Less than I’d expected, but spectacular enough, for low down on the burnt-black trunks of many of the stringybarks were intense dustings of orange dots.
Moving nearer, I was reminded of the dense colonies of tiny bivalve shells I have seen stuck to rocks on marine rock platforms.
As the individuals were so tiny, I had to go up really close to see their fungi features.

Several sunny days and one wild thunderstorm later, not a dot of orange is to be seen. Talk about living for the moment!

Wet Warrumbungles

bungles-1aMy first day camping in the Warrumbungle National Park ended with showers and a stunning misty sunset, complete with rainbow.

I hadn’t lowered and zipped shut  the front ‘verandah’ flap of my tent, so a little water had entered.

My cousins erected a separate ‘fly’ tarpaulin over their whole tent in case of further rain.


It grew cold and damp; a young male Eastern Grey kangaroo insisted on sharing our fire’s warmth. No feeding of animals is allowed here, but they are unafraid of humans.

Next morning was persistently wet; water had seeped into my tent at the bottom edges, My bedding was dry, but It felt like an island, so I pegged out the ‘blinds’ to stretch the tent sides more.

This worked. However, I intend to buy a tarpaulin to make my own fly over the top for next time.


We donned wet weather gear and went for a gentle valley walk, where this shaggy group of ancient grass trees caught my eye.


As we packed up wet gear under dripping trees, a group of emus wandered into camp — different shaggy creatures, but equally weird.

The rain had caused these fungi to erupt though the leaf litter like small daisies. They are ‘Earth stars’ I think (Geastrum triplex) and I’d only ever seen them in books before.


As I drove out, the mist was rising and the wet lichened rockfaces mimicked snow. I’ll come back in fine weather for more walks in the Warrumbungles — but with a tent fly ready in case!

Fleshy blooms

There are few flowering plants in bloom now. The wattle is almost ready but as yet is grey-green with just a promise of gold. Most of the bulbs have shot through the grass but only one or two isolated jonquils have opened their scent to the light and air.

And yet from the damp edges of my verandah I can see clumps of creamy-beige flowers pushing up old mown grass. They are not something I have planted; I have never seen these in my yard before.
blooms-2When the rain eased I went closer. Not flowers, but extremely over-populated fungi. Cream to pale caramel, delicate yet fleshy all at once, their lightly fringed caps upturn like the faces of flowers. Fighting for space and light, they fold and layer and then triumphantly open — my blooms.





blooms-3 A few days later they are still there, and then I think I see a new colony several metres away, near the leafless birch trees.
These are in two separate spots. The lower one is definitely the same sort as my fleshy beige blooms, but a small cluster right amongst the jonquils seems whiter.
Indeed they are, perhaps because the most recently emerged, but they are also more convoluted and this I think must be because they have had to grow through the jonquil bulbs and around their leaves, tougher than grass.

Treasure hunt

After being cooped up in the cabin for too many days, wondering if my wood supply is enough to last out the wet spell, especially as the tin cover blew off the woodpile – I seize the chance to go for a walk in the forest as soon as a likely long fine break occurs.

I know I am bound to find something interesting or beautiful or both. My first stop is always where the dam overflow crosses the track and heads down the gully. 
First treasure found: water sliding silver over rocks, moss glowing green and tiny plants as pretty as jewels.

Next I walk around the dam, squelching over the grass where the hidden spring higher up is running across the clearing. Few trees have seeded here, no doubt because the wallabies and kangaroos love this spot and graze here daily.

But at the base of the one large shade tree, I spot a bright splash of colour against the dark trunk, and head towards it.
Second treasure:  a clump of fat fungi crowded together, orange to amber on top, flesh to salmon to brown below, upcurved bowls for catching leaves.

Light rain starts to fall and I hurry home, grateful for the brief outdoor time. And for the fact that here on my mountain I am always assured of finding at least one treasure.

Autumn fungi

In the forest, after rain and while there is still some warmth in the sunshine, I am bound to find some stunning fungi popping up amongst the leaves or blooming on the tree trunks.

What amazes me is that each season I find new ones, at least, never before seen by me here. In just one week here’s some of the treasures I spotted without walking very far or looking very hard.

The black object on the bottom left is my gumboot-shod foot, just so you get the scale of this rosy trio that erupted right beside the path up to the loo.


This rather slimy little chocolate cap came with tiny choc chips, a dollop of whipped cream and an insect visitor that I didn’t even see until I blew up the photo. It was spotted from the loo itself, which has no door to inhibit nature watching.

Like orange sherbet ice blocks, these dainty fungi look good enough to eat, and there were hundreds of them scattered throughout the grass in a small area. I resisted.

As if orange sherbet wasn’t tempting enough, just inside my house yard a batch of half a dozen freshly baked chocolate cakes, un-iced, had appeared overnight.

Plump and smooth and bigger than cup cakes, two of them looked as if someone else had already taken a bite. I could almost smell chocolate cake!

Any ideas of the identification of these fungi will be very welcome; I have looked in my books, but have given up!

Wet, wet world

wet-1Recent rains seemed endless as I remained cabinbound for the week, standing on the wet steps and peering out over the falling autumn leaves at the wet, wet world around me.

Over 300mm of rain fell, encouraging the kikuyu to grow ahead of my efforts once more.


Gum boot shod, hat dripping water down the neck of my Drizabone, each morning I had to at least venture as far as the rain gauge and the diminishing wood heap, as well as checking the batteries in the solar power shed.


The maned wood ducks liked it, and clearly felt secure in this watery world, seeing me restricted to the verandah far more than usual. They nibbled their way at leisure across the yard, much closer to structures than previously.


On the first morning of no rain, I ventured out with the camera. Low cloud still hid the far mountains, and the trees still dripped latent raindrops, but it was good to be out walking.

Water ran over grass like mini-creeks, and water plants flourished in puddles.


Although the horses have been gone for months, their presence is still evident in the rotting lumps of manure scattered here and there. On the track each ball of manure has sprouted tiny fungi, like candles on a cake.


In the house yard, colours are darker, leaves shinier, lichen brighter. The plants look happier than I do – as the rain begins to fall again

Poly fungi?

Driving home along the track I stopped to inspect this large whitish blob which hadn’t been there three days ago.

Was it a chunk of aged polstyrene, or yet another fungi that I’ve never seen before?

I didn’t touch it, but now realise I should have, for I can’t identify it in my fungi books. It doesn’t seem to fit anything exactly: maybe a sort of Calvatia?

Then the ridged lip made me wonder if it had fallen from a tree, but I hadn’t checked if it was attached to the ground, and it was undamaged.  Even so, I still can’t work out what it might be.

Next trip out I checked, and yes, it was just sitting unattached on the ground.

How amazing that it hadn’t smashed when it fell from the nearby big grey gum where I assumed it had grown.