By Sandra Tuszynska
I’d been told that there were some mushrooms growing on Bill’s Island, an area of the Woodfordia site named after the Festival Director, and some recent investigating during the Parliament Day did not disappoint.
What I didn’t expect to find though, was an established crop of native Oyster Mushrooms growing from between the walls and the floor of the shower cabin. Native Oyster Mushrooms are usually only found growing in Western Australia and Woodfordia is on the east coast in Queensland!
My friend and I were on a mission to capture this wonderful occurrence by taking many photos and carefully carving out a sample of the specimen in the hope of getting a spore print and hopefully identifying the species.
We wrapped the sample in some paper towel and to prevent the remaining crop from being destroyed, I wrote a note to the future occupant of the room to enjoy the wonderful oyster mushroom garden growing in their shower. We then stuck the note on the shower door with some sticky tape.
But the excitement did not end there. When we got back to the festivities, the Annual General Meeting was about to start and a friend of mine, the newly elected president of the Queensland Mycological Society, Wayne Boatwright just happened to walk past us. I rushed up to him to show him our find and he offered to take the specimen and process it for identification.
Identifying fungi is not an easy task as many look very similar and sometimes only the microscopic features such as the spore shape and ornamentation are the only way to know the difference. What makes it even more difficult is that the majority of fungi in Australia are unidentified. We know of only 13 000 recorded species out of at least 250 000 Australian species, 5000 of which are mushrooms, having a fruiting body in a shape of a mushroom, of which only 5% have been described.
This certainly shows our lack of interest in these essential life forms, perhaps because we are not educated about the fact that life as we know it could not have happened and would cease to exist without fungi. This motivates me to continue to share with you some of the gorgeous fungi that call Woodfordia home.
Oh, and if you feel like joining our Fun-Gies tea, part of our Woodfordia Treehuggers social group and working bees, to learn more about fungi and soil biology, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org