Agaric species are richly diverse in form and colour and of great importance to natural ecosystems as recyclers of plant material, mycorrhizal partners and as food resources for many animals.
Agaricus xanthodermus – Yellow Stainer (toxic)
Agaricus xanthodermus can be seen after rain almost year round but is mostly seen in clusters in late summer and autumn. The young cap takes two forms – one convex and white and one squarish in profile with a flat top and light brown. The cap can grow to 100mm across and become deeply cracked in dry conditions. The annulus or ring around the stem is usually pendulous. Gills are at first pale then pink and finally dark brown/purple – the same colour as the spores. It occurs in all south and eastern states.
Agaricus xanthodermus causes most poisonings due to ingestion of wild fungi in Victoria. It looks very similar to edible mushrooms, is more common than them in urban areas and is certainly more numerous in the Park. The most reliable test is to bruise or split the stem at its base or scratch the cap and if this reveals bright yellow chrome staining do not under any circumstances consume it! It will also have an unpleasant phenol odour and this chemical is present in high enough concentrations to be toxic. For treatment, contact the Poisons Information Centre (13 1126).
Agrocybe praecox – Spring Agrocybe
The cap of Agrocybe praecox is broadly conical around 70mm across and flattens on maturity. Spores dark brown. It is common in the Northern Hemisphere and usually observed on wood mulch. It is edible but not very palatable.
Bolbitius vetellinus – Egg-yolk Fieldcap
Chrome yellow and sticky or slimy when young, Bolbitius vitellinus caps can grow from 15mm to 55mm and quickly change to a greyish white and the gills from pale yellow to brown. The stem is white with fine, mealy coating and tiny white tufts. Bolbitius vitellinus is widespread in the Park but most numerous on and around the oval. The tiny Collembola or Springtails feed on fungi and appear soon after the cap emerges.
Chlorophyllum brunneum – Shaggy Parasol Mushroom (toxic)
Chlorophyllum brunneum is a large fungus (<200mm height and diameter) and grows in groups, preferring shaded areas. It has thick brown scales and white spores and gills, degrading to brown. When cut, the stem and cap bruise brownish red. This fungus is known to cause gastric upsets and strong allergic reactions. It appears in the Park in several areas.
Clitocybe dealbata -Ivory Funnel
This attractive species has a pale 20-40mm cap that becomes wavy at the margins and more buff coloured with age. The gills run down the stem which has a downy base, spores are white. Under no circumstances should this mushroom be eaten; it contains the toxin muscarine which can cause serious illness!
Coprinellus sp. – Fairy Ink Caps
A tiny (10-20mm), fragile fungus with a bell-shaped cap, this Coprinellus species (possibly disseminatus) grows in very large groups. The caps are white or cream with a brown centre when young and deeply pleated. As they age the flesh becomes grey or pale blue. Unlike others in the Coprinaceae family the gills on this group do not auto-digest, flattening and shrivelling instead. These emerged from relatively freshly laid mulch at the entrance to the Windmill Soak and were gone the next day. Edible but hardly worth the effort!
Coprinellus sp. micaceous group
Coprinellus are common and widespread in the Park, often in large, dense colonies. These species are likely to be from the micaceus group. They mostly occur on buried wood, particularly around stumps. The white granules on the cap surface wash away with rain and colours are highly variable ranging from dark brown to light amber. The caps measure just 20-150mm and expands from oval to convex or bell-shaped, finally curling up at the margin showing its lacy black gills as it autodigests. The stem is white, smooth or very finely hairy and hollow. Spore print is black.
Coprinopsis species are small, fragile and very short-lived, dissolving sometimes within hours. It has soft white hairs on its 1-3cm cap and fine white scales on its hollow stem. It produces a compound that has some antibiotic properties which have now been synthesised.
Coprinus comatus – Shaggy Ink Cap or Lawyer’s Wig
At first a long ellipse, this small, shaggy cap becomes parabolic turns up at the edge before, as with most ink caps, turning black as the auto-digestion process commences. It has a brittle hollow stem which remains after auto-digestion.
The pretty Crepidotus variabilis are varied in size but these, at least so far, are tiny. Here they are firmly attached to wood chips in Woodland Walk which is sheltered by mature trees and quite moist. The gills will gradually darken as the pinkish-brown spores appear.
The cap of Gymnopilus dilepis is at first reddish purple but as it expands the fibrils separate and the flattened cap becomes progressively more yellow. It is thought that this species requires the heat of decaying or fermenting mulch. Spores are yellow-brown.
Gymnopilus junonius – Rustgill
The cap of Gymnopilus junonius is also fibrillose but at maturity becomes scaly and the gills darken from orange to brown. Stems are swollen towards the base, orange-brown and yellowish above the ring, striate and scaly. It produces masses of rust brown spores.
This large, robust, smooth-capped bright orange fungus is probably a species of Gymnopilus. Only two small groups have been observed in recent years at the Park, despite the masses of rust coloured spores released.
The 300 or so species of Gymnopus are common around the world and occurs on mulch in several places in the Park. This is possibly Gymnopus dryophilus.
Hypholoma fasciculare – Sulphur Tuft (toxic)
Hypholoma fasciculare occurs in large groups in numerous parts of the Park where there is buried dead wood. Its cap is typically orange brown in the centre and greenish-yellow or yellow at the margins. Spores are purplish-brown. This species is bitter to taste and toxic with some evidence that it can cause liver damage.