Megan Prance gave us a fascinating insight into the world of fungi.
The mushroom (or fungus) you pick is just the fruiting body. It is like the apple on the tree. The true mushroom is the mycelium – those little white fibres tucked out of sight in the soil or other substrate. It is estimated that there are 5300 – 110,000 species around the world but only 16 – 41% have been named. 6000 – 10000 species are found in Australia with 72% of these unique to Australia. Unlike plants and animals, there is little awareness of fungi in Australia with limited funding, few study opportunities and little research for example the Queensland Herbarium only has one mycologist. In 2010 the Queensland Herbarium held only 18 fungi records for Brisbane's SW suburbs. Following surveys in the Wolson and Centenary catchments, there are now 270 records but it is expected that there are about 1200 fungi species in the area. Fungi are important as decomposers of organic matter, assisting plant growth and providing food for animals and insects. They have also been used for medicines and in cheeses and wine. The first Census of Qld Fungi was released in 2013 and the next census is expected to be released in early September 2014. Whenever the Queensland Mycological Society (QMS) ventures out on a survey, about 25% of species found are new species. If you do find fungi in your garden, don't use fungicides or mulch unnecessarily or change or fragment natural areas.
For more information about the QMS and its activities and publications, go to: http://qldfungi.org.au
A copy of Megan's presentation is available in the presentations section.