If you’re planning a walk in the Tassie bush this time of year, it’s a good idea to add an extra hour to your ETA. Why? Because it’s fungi season! All manner of intriguing shapes and colours are popping up at boot-level, and they belong to the fungi family.
Fungi hunting is actually a LOT of fun. A great activity to engage in with the kids too. Here are five handy tips to ensure your trip is a success.
1. Research first.
Hop onto the Facebook group Tasmanian Fungi, or this website. Scroll through the photos of weird and wonderful fungi to familiarise yourself with what’s out there in the Tassie wilds. Once your eye is attuned to these unique formations, you’re more likely to spot them for yourself.
2. Go slow, and go low.
Don’t set out on your walk with a time limit. Think of your fungi hunt as more of an amble, a stroll, a jaunt. Take a small child with you—their height means they will likely spot the things you miss.
3. Do. Not. Touch.
And for goodness sake, don’t even think of dropping any scrap of fungi into your mouth, even if it does look tantalisingly like a swiss brown, or similar. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but these strangely beautiful examples of fungi are often extremely poisonous. For information on poisonous mushrooms you can contact the Poisons Information Centre’s 24-hour telephone advice line on 131 126.
4. Take a camera and a mirror.
Because touching the fungi you find is hugely frowned upon, taking photos and scrutinising your finds are the best ways to interact with your discoveries. Use a small mirror (dental mirrors are the best!) to get a glimpse of the fungi’s underside, and take photos at different angles to capture the texture, colour, surface and context. You might even like to take your photos with an item (like a coin) to make clear the fungi’s dimensions.
5. Identify it.
Part of the fun of the fungi hunt is figuring out more about your fungi sightings. You can use the identification page of the Tasfungi website, or post your photos to the Tasfungi Facebook group for enthusiasts to give you a hand in identification. There is currently a scientific conservation project underway that you could be involved in too. People are encouraged to share photos to the Fungimap Project to help expand fungi knowledge. Many species of Australian fungi are thought to be unknown to science.
Grab your boots, your camera and your dental mirror, and enjoy a slow walk, feasting your eyes (only!) on the wonder that is Tasmania’s fungi!