DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  FUNGI  

 

Now that the Fungi have their own kingdom, it is questionable if they should be included under Flora, in fact their DNA has proved to be closer to animals.  The rains of southern and central Chile create a prime environment for mushrooms and other such fungal growth.  Identification of mushrooms often depends on microscopic examination of spores or other organs, and is taxing even in North America where there are numerous field guides. For Chile, there is the book Guia de Campo, Hongos de Chile by Giuliana Furci.  There follows some of the more unusual examples that the writer has come across in the Southern Cordillera.

 

This ball-fungus from Patagonia is unique.  It is also said to be edible, in fact its local name is Pan de Indio ('Indian bread').  Cyttaria espinosae is its most likely mycological designation.  There are several Cyttaria in the Southern Beech forests of Patagonia, and they are hard to tell apart. Click to see big picture (585x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Cyttaria attacks living trees causing much damage, as shown here.  This is likely Cyttaria darwinii.  (Well, frankly, it might be any of the genus). Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 171 KB)
Another, perhaps related, fungus shown killing Avellano trees in central Chile.  Cyttaria sp. for sure. Click to see big picture (568x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Agrocybe cylindracea is a large wood mushroom, sought and even cultivated in the northern hemisphere under the name of Poplar Fieldcap.   This Chilean example is a bit past its prime. Click to see big picture (640x323 pixels; 100 KB)
Another "wood-shroom", showing the 'veil' which covers the gills of many mushrooms when young, and then breaks to leave a ring or annulus on top of the stalk.  This appears to be Gymnopilus spectabilis, better known from the northern hemisphere as the Great Laughing Mushroom. Click to see big picture (640x461 pixels; 104 KB)
Mushrooms tend to be triggered by autumn rains, but here are some Spring shrooms on Carlos Condell Hill in Curico, Chile.    On the left is some species of Agaricus.
Conks are hard and long-lasting fungi that grow on trees.  This large one from the Maule Valley in Chile looks like the widespread Ganoderma australe, which is reported from the region. Click to see big picture (640x407 pixels; 110 KB)
A large white conk grows from a massive disfigurement in a living tree. Click to see big picture (585x480 pixels; 141 KB)
A close-up of the white conk, which is unusual in not being as hard or woody as most.   This is likely Ryvardenia cretacea, found in Chile, Australia and New Zealand. Click to see big picture (640x472 pixels; 110 KB)
Bracket mushrooms grow out of wood with the appearance of ears. This dark species is virtually stalkless.  Unlike conks, these have gills rather than pores for releasing their spores. Click to see big picture (574x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Although not as tough as conks, some bracket mushrooms can be large and clustered, such as these infesting a tree near Curico.  It is likely the common world traveller, Pleurotus ostreatus. Click to see big picture (640x323 pixels; 89 KB)
Dung is another common host for fungi.  In some cases the spores have come right through the animals digestive track. Click to see big picture (451x480 pixels; 96 KB)
This species of dung mushroom is Coprinopsis nivea, the Snowy Inkcap.  It is mainly a European species, but here on cow droppings in the Maule Valley of Chile. Click to see big picture (369x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Horse dung is the specialty of Panaeolus semiovatus.  Known as Egghead Mottlegill, it is found through many of the temperate zones of the world, here in central Chile.  It is poisonous.
And here the droppings have been enveloped in a shroud of thread-like mycelium, the part of a fungus which is usually rooted out of site. Click to see big picture (640x462 pixels; 165 KB)
The famous and colorful Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).  A widespread mushroom -- this is from the Island of Chiloe-- it is somewhere between poisonous and hallucinogenic. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 147 KB)
Gilled mushrooms with spots are likely to be poisonous.  Both the Amanita and Lepiota genuses are so adorned, and contain some of the most dangerous mushrooms on record.  This one appears to be Amanita rubescens, a species complex better known from the northern hemisphere. Click to see big picture (566x480 pixels; 136 KB)
It is edible and it is European, but the Horse Mushroom (Agaricus arvensis) has spread to many parts of the world, including here in central Chile.  It may be found in pastures, of which there are plenty available.
A Shaggy Mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus) sprouting from a grassy patch in patagonian Argentina. Click to see big picture (333x480 pixels; 66 KB)
Coprinus comatus again, showing the gills which go from pink to black as the spores develop.  These Shaggy Manes are on the beach at Caleta Tortel in Chilean Patagonia.
Many of the best-tasting mushrooms do not have gills.  The most common group are the 'Boletes' which have large pores on the underside.  This one in the artificial pine plantations would be Suillus granulatus, the Callampa de Pino. Click to see big picture (463x480 pixels; 108 KB)
From the semi-arid region of La Rioja, Argentina, an unusual puffball with complex markings, filled with yellowish spores.  Likely Mycenastrum corium which is a widespread species in fields with animal droppings. puffballs
Giant Puffballs erupt from the fields of central Chile.  It appears to be Handkea (formerly Calvatia) utriformis, and good eating when young, but they are locally referred to as Callampas del Diablo and considered poisonous.  giant puffballs
There are at least four species of Morels noted in Patagonia.  This one appears closest to Morchella conica, mainly known from the northern hemisphere.  Chubut Province, Argentina. Click to see big picture (281x480 pixels; 49 KB)
This colorful tangle is the Golden Hair Lichen (Teloschistes flavicans), which is widespread in both semi-tropical and temperate climates.  Here in southern Chile.
Ramalina celasti is one of the Cartilage Lichens found in the warmer parts of the world, in this case near Curacavi in central Chile.