The 23rd New Zealand Fungal Foray was held conjointly with the Australasian Mycological Society Conference 10–16 May 2009 at Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, Wellington. Accommodation was at El Rancho Christian Holiday Camp and 33 people attended the foray. Visitors came from USA, Australia, Tasmania, Japan, England and Sweden.
Prior to European settlement the Kapiti coast consisted of bands of vegetation zones running north-south along the coastline. Adjacent to the coast there was a wide band of duneland colonised by grassland and shrublands. Further inland there was a narrow band of kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile)-karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus)-ngaio (Myoporum laetum) coastal forest. Beyond this, on the alluvial flats right up to the edges of SH1, was a band of swamp forest containing kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae), maire tawaki (Syzygium maire) and ti kouka (Cordyline australis) (Gabites 1993).
On the inland side of what is now SH1, tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa), rewarewa (Knightia excelsa), hinau (Elaeocarpus dentatus), nikau (Rhopalostylis sapida), mapou (Myrsine australis), porokaiwhiri (Hedycarya arborea) and mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus) entered the canopy. Beyond this again was a band of podocarp/broadleaf forest that extended right down the middle of the Wellington peninsula, predominantly tawa forest with emergent rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) and northern rata (Metrosideros robusta). From around 400m kamahi (Weinmannia racemosa) and hinau replaced tawa in the canopy and red beech (Nothofagus fusca) and silver beech (N. menziesii) were prominent. Above 550 m northern rata, rimu and hinau were replaced by miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea) and Hall’s totara (Podocarpus cunninghamii). Above 800 m there was a band of silver beech (Gabites, 1993).
The European arrival saw rapid destruction of these vast forests for pastoral farming. Very little of these original forests now remain in the Wellington region, and they are mostly found in the hill country, predominantly beech. Much of the surviving original forest around Waikanae still stands because of the efforts of William (“Willie”) Hughes Field, who once owned 3100 acres (1254.5 ha) of coastal plain in the area and was one of the founders, in 1903, of the Scenery Preservation Society, a small group of powerful men who advocated wherever possible the preservation of New Zealand’s forest heritage throughout the country (White 2001).
This foray added 695 fungal records (representing 362 taxa) to the FUNNZ database, and 389 collections to the New Zealand Fungal and Plant Disease Herbarium (PDD). New records for New Zealand included Leucopaxillus lilacinus, Omphalina pyxidata, and Sirobasidium rubrofuscum. There were 65 records of 48 taxa listed as ‘Data deficient’ and one record of Chalciporus aurantiaca, which is currently listed as ‘Nationally Critical’, but probably needs reassessment. The sites with most collections were Rimutaka Forest Park (164), Lake Papaitonga (79) and Nga Manu Nature Reserve (75).
Monday 11 May, keeping it close
We decided to visit nearby reserves for the first day of foraying. After breakfast we traveled south on SH1 to Nikau Reserve. The reserve is dominated by kohekohe and nikau with tawa. Common fungi on wood were the introduced orange poreconch (Favolaschia calocera), sunset leatherbracket (Stereum ostrea) and artist’s porebracket (Ganoderma cf. applanatum). By the edge of the track we found a group of earthstars (Geastrumsaccatum).
We walked uphill to a grassy hilltop from which we could look down over Paraparaumu to Kapiti Island in the distance. The vegetation changed and tree daisy (Olearia sp.) became frequent. On the way down just off the track I found a colony of a cup fungus (Cookeina colensoi) growing on wood.
After lunch we went to nearby Paraparaumu Scenic Reserve, a 256 ha reserve accessed from SH1 via a covenant area. This reserve is dominated by kohekohe, tawa and mahoe. On the valley floor we found a huge old kohekohe and a tangle of supplejack (Ripogonum scandens) amongst wheki (Dicksonia squarrosa). There was not much in the way of fungi to be found, the most common being orange poreconch again. Growing from soil I found a couple of scarlet pouch fungi (Leratiomyces erythrocephalus).
Next we went back north to Waikanae and visited the 330 ha Hemi Matenga Memorial Park Scenic Reserve. Here tall kohekohe were festooned with a jumble of supplejack. Once again the orange poreconch was everywhere, but very little else. The native fern poreconch (Favolaschia cyatheae) was found growing on Cyathea debris and wood-ear jelly (Auricularia cornea) was very common growing on wood.
Tuesday 12 May, heading north
Our first stop this day was to Nga Manu Nature Reserve. This is 15 ha of lowland swamp forest dominated by 400-year-old kahikatea. The reserve boasts 700 different native plant species, many of which are on the threatened list, including native grasses and ferns. There is a captive-breeding programme under way as well as revegetation and weed control. Mistletoe has been introduced into the reserve, the most successful species being Ileostylus micranthus. The idea of building a predator-proof fence around the reserve was rejected as it would involve the removal of too much native forest to make way for it.
A highlight of the visit was the finding of a club fungus, Macrotyphula defibulata), growing on the decaying stems of NZ flax (Phormium tenax) at the edge of the boardwalk. Another species found on the flax, this time the leaves, was Melanotus vorax, currently only known from two other collections. On the way out, growing on the road reserve we found a dozen or so witch-hat waxgills (Hygrocybe conica) peeping through the grass. In the same area were several puffballs (Bovista sp.), some opened out to display the spore mass ready for dispersal.
After lunch we headed north to Waiopehu Scenic Reserve in Levin. The vegetation in this 9 ha reserve is tawa forest and turned out to be quite fruitful in terms of fungi. There were lots of fallen trees creating habitat for various wood-dwelling fungi. A jelly fungus (Tremella sp.) was quite common, as was wood-ear jelly and ivory conch (Conchomyces bursiformis). The introduced orange poreconch was present but not abundant. On a rotting log I found a group of three wineglass leatherbracket (Podoscypha petalodes subsp. floriformis).
That day at Akataroa Saddle there were two collections made of Pholiota malicola, which had first been found at Westport in 2006, the first New Zealand record. These new collections were the first North Island records.
Wednesday 13 May, 8th NZ Fungal Foray Mycology Colloquium and 2009 Australasian Mycological Society Conference