It is not just the disparity in size and form that makes fungi so fascinating. It is their names. Some names are simply descriptive, such as the coral fungus or the Golden Jelly Bells, but others borrow from the anatomical, the mystical, even the historical. Winter has come, the temperatures have dropped and the fungi are appearing in large numbers. I think that it will be a great fungi year.
One group of fungi is the jelly fungi, so called because of their gelatinous appearance. The White Brain (Tremella fuciformis) jelly fungus pictured above is one of the earliest to appear. Another goes by the wonderful name of Brown Witch’s Butter (Tremella fimbriata), pictured right.
Another group of fungus is the boletes, characterised by a spongy surface of pores on the underside of the cap, rather than gills. The name is derived from boletus, the Latin word for mushroom. After the recent rains, our ridge top has seen the appearance of a group of Giant Boletes (Phlebopus marginatus) (pictured left). As the name suggests this species is large. In fact the Giant Bolete is Australia’s largest terrestrial fungus with some weighing in at over 20 kg. The specimen photographed is nowhere near that big but big enough when it is compared to the five cent piece. In a week or so this large mushroom will be a large pile of ooze (click HERE to see why).
On the other end of the size spectrum are these mushrooms from the Mycena genus (pictured right). The word Mycena comes from the Ancient Greek for mushroom shaped. An alternative derivation to the naming is that the mushroom resembles the helmets the soldiers wore in the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae.
Either way, in my next life I am going to get a job naming fungi.