ALL of us have been affected by fungi from time to time, perhaps in the form of dry rot in timber, a tasty meal garnished with exotic mushrooms, a course of penicillin or the last pretty green slices of bread kept too long.
On a more casual level we may have noticed a ‘fairy ring’ in the lawn or heard about deaths from eating ‘the wrong sort’ or wondered at the power of a soft white mushroom displacing rocks as it pushes its way into the light.
Local author Brian Saunders was particularly taken by the fungi of Lower Eyre Peninsula, so much so that he decided to write a book.
He recently released Admiring the Fungi of Lower Eyre Peninsula – an illustrated guide to the mushrooms and other fungi of the region.
“Admiration is a suitable response to many of our local mushrooms,” Mr Saunders said.
“They come in many colours, shapes and sizes and the bits we see are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Mr Saunders said most of the fungus continued to thrive below ground or in its tree trunk with nothing to be seen by the passerby.
“On Lower Eyre Peninsula we are fortunate in having a vast diversity of fungi that benefit our environment.”
Mr Saunders’ book illustrates nearly 200 local species and gives information on their way of life and where they are found.
The book came about after Mr Saunders attended a workshop at the Lincoln Marine Science Centre conducted by mycologist Pam Catcheside. Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula was looking at how to raise the profile of fungi on Lower Eyre Peninsula and the book was the result, with the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board covering printing costs.
Mr Saunders spent many hours during the damp months of the past five years pottering through the bush, eyes down and camera to hand, searching for fungi in the dunes, woodlands and forests of our region.
“At home I inspected and dissected, took photos through the microscope, referred to books, prepared specimens for the State Herbarium and exchanged emails with Pam, without whose expertise and generosity the project could not have been completed. Then it was a matter of writing descriptions, selecting from some thousands of photos and juggling the results with the computer to form the book.
The book follows his previous publications Quieter Wildflowers of Lower Eyre Peninsula, Shores and Shallows of Coffin Bay and Discovery of Australia’s Fishes.
It is available in Port Lincoln from NewsXpress Beers, the NRM Board offices and the Visitor Information Centre, in Coffin Bay from the post office and Beachcomber, and in Adelaide from Dymocks and the South Australian Museum.