Today is definitely an appropriate day to announce the Museum’s Citizen Science project to document Lord Howe Island’s fungi species — it’s National Mushroom Day!
Mushroom Day occurs on October 15th every year. The holiday actually originated here in Australia, where it is dedicated to mushroom farmers, hospitality businesses, and health professionals to celebrate all things associated with growing and eating these delicacies.
Being covered in rainforest, the Island does have a lot of fungi species, and these have not really been documented in a systematic way.
As my interest here has been all things in nature, I have photographed nearly 100 fungi over forty years, however it is difficult to get names on these, as many look very similar, and there are few specialists working on fungi in Australia.
Over many years I have sent photographs to mycologists in Sydney and New Zealand, and have had some named, at least to genus level.
Since 2016 the museum has been asking visitors to email fungi photographs to the museum.
In 2022 I was approached by some fungi researchers from Australia about starting a collecting process to collect some fungi and dry them for DNA analysis to give definite identifications.
Finally, we have a research permit in place with the Lord Howe Island Board for a project to collect fungi – and we have already started some collecting of specimens.
April Grimson will help coordinate this project at the museum and anyone interested can contact April or myself to participate. We will create a process whereby we can harness the eyes and interest of locals and visitors to the island to help find the fungi. It will involve photographing fungi, emailing to the museum, and if we don’t already have a specimen, we will endeavour to collect it, dry it and send on to our colleagues at Orange and Melbourne for identification.
Next April a small team of interested mycologists will visit the Island and hold some fungi workshops at the Museum. More details on the process will be given in a future blog, but in the meantime, here are some of the colourful fungi already in our photo collection.