Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Special Issue on Fungi in Wombat Forestcare Newsletter

Fungi publication notice: Special issue on fungi in Wombat Forestcare Newsletter

by Alison Pouliot

The members of the Wombat Forestcare collectively hold an incredible wealth of knowledge about the biodiversity of the Wombat Forest, including that of its fungi. Several Wombat Forestcare members are also actively involved in Fungimap and contribute fungus distribution records and participate in Fungimap forays.

There are also those who appreciate fungi in a whole lot of other ways. This special issue of the newsletter contains a collection of encounters with the Wombat Forest's fungi expressed through stories, anecdotes, poetry and images.

The newsletter opens with a contribution by David Minter, the president of the International Society for Fungal Conservation. David commends Wombat Forestcare for its "model of good practice" in "recognising the importance of fungi and the need to protect them".

According to newsletter readers, the Wombat's most alluring fungus is Mycena interrupta, the pixie's parasol. But many other species also attracted interest and readers offered fascinating insights into how and why fungi activate people's interest and curiosity.

For example, Cat Nield chose Mycena interrupta because "These tiny little beauties with their perfect form and amazing colours remind me how much of our forests can go unnoticed and unappreciated. I am fascinated by these delicate miniature fungi hiding in the cracks of a log or perched on a shed piece of bark amongst the litter”.

Kim Percy chose Tremella fuciformis because "The translucent ghost like quality of this fungus takes me to another world. Imagine it as an enormous entity, floating through space or holding it up to the light and seeing the forest through its milky membrane. Its simplicity is its beauty – a spirit being of the forest floor”.

Bronwyn Lay's poetic appreciation of Mycena interrupta beautifully expresses how these tiny forms can so powerfully capture one's heart and imagination.

Mycena interrupta, Image: Alison Pouliot
Mycena interrupta, image: Alison Pouliot
little blue
by Bronwyn Lay

Single small beauty is the forest’s still small voice,
Poised above the earth on crumble wood,
You are turquoise lover trying to give cover.
You bring waves inland so a spot of sea
is seen in the biotic debris.
Petite wonder among the giants,
Your soft canvas holds a regal
head waiting to be taken by the wind.
Until the body breaks its blue
Through soil’s centre.
But for now, in this quiet,
Knowing you will vanish,
I breathe close to spores
Wee colour that feeds the world.
Little friend suspended.
Forgive me,
I think
I might have
in love.

Terrific fungus photos were also received from the newsletter's youngest contributor, Ari Scheltema, aged six years. Others told of unexpected fungal discoveries in the Wombat and the many ways in which fungi are appreciated including their ecological roles, aesthetics, medicinal and edible qualities and how for some, encounters with fungi have inspired an ethic of care.

Enormous thanks to all those who contributed their impressions of the Wombat Forest's fungi.

The newsletter is available as a PDF at the Wombat Forestcare website.

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