Have you ever been fascinated by the wonders that spring from the underworld after good rains?
On cue fungi of all sorts start to appear in your garden, lawn, parklands or natural woodlands, forests and grasslands like those within Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area.
We are all familiar with the plant and animal kingdoms; however, there is a third and often forgotten kingdom- that of fungi; being neither plant or animal but of immense benefit to both.
Yeast, moulds and the familiar mushrooms and toadstools all consist of hyphal threads that combine to form fungal mycelial networks.
Mycelium is generally observed as white thread-like structures, similar cotton wool.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of one common group of fungi and appear in many different forms, colours, shapes and sizes.
From the often portrayed image in children's stories of a fairy sitting on a Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria - image) to the orange Corals (Romaria sp) or the purples of the Emperor Cortinar (Cortinarius archeri) or the fragrances of Stinkhorns (Clathrus sp) emitted to attract flies that are thought to assist with spore dispersal.
All fungi have a purpose.
They are the heavy earth moving machinery of the natural world; decomposing fallen trees and returning them to the earth as organics, replenishing the soils for living plants to extract as nutrients.
A very cyclic process.
Many fungi have specific host plants or objects such as marsupials' dung.
Some have a symbiotic relationships with plants whereby each mutually benefits.
For example, fungal mycelium may attach to tree roots thereby extracting nutrients from the soil to feed into the tree's vascular system.
In return the tree provides the sugars to sustain the fungus.
However, some fungi are parasitic and feed off a host plant without giving back.
Across landscape plants and fungi have evolved together to create these beneficial relationships.
Without fungi to break down the cellulose in wood there would be no hollows in Eucalyptus trees for instance.
These cavities are then occupied by arboreal mammals and birds for nest sites and roosting.
Many of our threatened fauna species are hollow dwelling or nesting.
As such, fungi are critical to the continued survival of these species in assisting to provide homes.
The Plant and Animal Kingdoms rely on the fungal world to exist in healthy functioning ecosystems.
Once you have ventured into the fascinating world of fungi, the rewards of discovery are endless.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below