For the past two weeks I have been watching bright orange/brown mushrooms growing out of a dead pine stump (pictured left). This species is known as the Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius) and occurs in groups feeding on dead conifers and other exotic trees. The scientific name comes from the Greek words Gymn meaning naked, pilus meaning cap and juno being the statuesque goddess of Roman mythology.
Today I came upon the mushroom half eaten. The Spectacular Rustgill is toxin to humans. Subspecies of this fungus can contain hallucinogenic compounds hence its alternative common name of Laughing Jim.
In the next few days if I hear giggling from the local kangaroos, wallabies or wombats I’ll know who’s be tucking into the mushrooms.