In the last year or so we’ve really begun to appreciate the importance of fungi in a living landscape. The fungi (toadstools, mushrooms and so on) we see pop up after rain are the fruiting bodies of sometimes vast underground fungal networks. Some of these fungi form relationships with plant roots that are often mutually beneficial and enhance the plant’s ability to access nutrients and moisture. The Australian National Botanic Gardens suggest that some 80-90% of Australian plants form or benefit from mycorrhizal networks (fungal associations), and may derive up to 30% of their food through this symbiotic relationship.
The fungal networks are fragile and easily damaged by cultivation and compaction, and it has taken five years before we’ve begun to see fungi returning to areas where we’ve excluded livestock and revegetated. Some of these fungi have come in with mulch (and they’re most welcome), but most heartening are those that have sprung up unbidden, often around our more established saplings.
In our fungal journey, we’ve discovered the vast diversity of the fungal world and so are completely hopeless at identifying what they might be. We’d love any suggestions for these we’ve spotted on our property and beyond!