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Feeding Frenzies and Fire Loving Fungi


Morel Mushroom - Morchella sp. after bushfire, Huon Valley, Tasmania.
Morel Mushroom - Morchella sp. after bushfire, Huon Valley,Tasmania.

After the 2019 bushfires in the Huon Valley, which concluded roughly around February/March of 2019, I decided I would try to casually monitor the variety and abundance of pyrophilous fungi (fire-loving fungi), appearing within two plots in nearby burnt Eucalyptus nitens plantation for my own personal interest to see what appeared.


Eucalyptus plantations are generally considered not that rich in biodiversity compared to native forests, however my visits to a plantation nearby where I live, has shown me some really exciting discoveries over the years nonetheless.


Most notably a patch of fire triggered fungi such as Morchella sp. and some underground truffle-like fungi (hypogeous underground fungi), that had been dug up by native fauna - often as a valuable source of food after bushfire.


Underground truffle-like fungi (hypogeous fungi) found on Eucalyptus nitens plantation
Underground truffle-like fungi (hypogeous fungi) found on Eucalyptus nitens plantation


Burnt Eucalyptus nitens plantation with animal diggings, underground truffle-like fungi
Burnt Eucalyptus nitens plantation with animal diggings, underground truffle-like fungi

About the site

Each plot is adjacent to each other and of around 500 square metres each.

Plot A is in a wetter, shaded area, with patchy low, thin understory shrubs that includes some Gorse.

Plot B is dryer with more afternoon sun with heavy leaf litter, and little by way of understory shrubs, bracken here and there, and more Gorse here and there.

Both sites are at an altitude of around 400-450m above sea level.


Since March 2019, every 3 or so months I'd been trying to record what fungi were appearing across the two plots where I've had some spare time.

Over the course of the monitoring so far, the two plots appear to host different varieties of fire fungi - plot A seems to have a greater variety and abundance than plot B.


Plot B seems to have less variety and overall abundance, but saying that I was lucky enough to observe two 'extraordinary' (to me!) fungi events in April 2019, and in spring of 2020!


Firstly in early April 2019, I discovered an amazing show of underground truffle-like fungi around a single Eucalyptus nitens tree, evidenced from discarded fungal remains leftover after the native animals have had a good feed.


This single Eucalyptus nitens tree had a rich payload of mycorrhizal underground truffle-like fungi!
This single Eucalyptus nitens tree had a rich payload of mycorrhizal underground truffle-like fungi!

Underground truffle-like fungi dug up by native fauna
Underground truffle-like fungi dug up by native fauna

Again on this same plot, in spring of 2020, there were approximately 50 or so Morchella sp. (Morel mushrooms) that had appeared over an area of approximately 250 square metres. Amazingly, that spring, there was also what looked to be a number of another Morchella species growing alongside the road on unburnt ground probably 500metres away.

Burnt Eucalyptus nitens plantation, burnt in 2019 with Morel mushrooms, Morchella sp.
Burnt Eucalyptus nitens plantation, burnt in 2019 with Morel mushrooms Morchella sp.

It is so interesting to see the Morchella spp. in it's fire triggered fruiting state and then as saprotroph alongside the road. Perhaps they had been alongside this road all along and I've just missed them over the years as I cannot always visit this area, however I do monitor an area further along, that I have observed fruits on unburnt ground each year.

Morel Mushroom - Morchella sp. found on unburnt soil in 2020
Morel Mushroom - Morchella sp. found on unburnt soil in 2020

Whilst I have much more to write about this monitoring, and the other species found, I find that since the above observations, this area has been logged in 2021 as part of normal forestry operations. I will continue to monitor the area to see what comes up as I'm hoping to learn more about successional species and the impacts of disturbance to the fungi of these two plantation sites.


Recent logging of the area - more extensive since this photograph
Recent logging of the area - more extensive since this photograph

#Huonvalley #firefungi #tasmanianfungi