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Piptoporus australiensis (Family Coriolaceae)

Curry Punk

Distribution:

In mainland Australia this species is known from the south-west of Western Australia, between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island in South Australia and in a broad band from western Victoria to Queensland, generally along or near the Great Dividing Range. In Tasmania it has been recorded from several localities, including the Bass Strait islands.

The distribution shown on the map is based on herbarium records and reliable sightings. It is likely that this species has a wider distribution than that shown on the map. However there has been little work on the distribution of Australian fungi and there are surprisingly few herbarium specimens of even the common species. (ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA)

Features:

This bracket fungus can be from 3 to 7 cm thick and may extend up to 20 cm out from the wood. It is coloured in shades of yellowish orange, with the underside sometimes showing droplets of an orange liquid. When viewed at a shallow angle, the underside may look very pale in colour. The bracket often looks much like a thick plate, but may also have a greatly sloping underside, giving a markedly triangular cross-section. The freshly-exposed orange flesh will stain skin a yellowish colour. There is a smell of curry, sometimes quite strong, especially in a dried specimen.

The Bougher & Syme book reports the fungus to produce a brown, cubical rot. Spore print: white. Basidiomycete.

Ecology/Way of Life:

A saprotroph – often on charred, dead wood.

Other Comments:

The type specimen was collected in Queensland and the species is an Australian endemic. In his 1965 polypore monograph, the New Zealand mycologist GH Cunningham moved four species from Polyporus to Piptoporus. More recent research on the other three species has shown that they should not be included in Piptoporus and they have been moved to other genera, leaving Piptoporus australiensis the only Southern Hemisphere species in the genus Piptoporus, but some people doubt that Piptoporus occurs in the Southern Hemisphere. It is possible that a detailed re-examination of Piptoporus australiensis would show that it also does not belong in Piptoporus, so leaving Piptoporus a Northern Hemisphere genus. However, pending a detailed revision, this species remains in Piptoporus. Note that, despite the title, Cunningham's book dealt with a number of Australian polypores as well.

Further Reading:

Arnold, G. (2002). Fungimap. http://fungimap.rbg.vic.gov.au/fsp/sp040.html

Bougher, N. & Syme, K. (1998). Fungi of Southern Australia, University of Western Australia Press.

Cleland, J.B. (1976). Toadstools and mushrooms and other larger fungi of South Australia. Parts I and II, 1934 – 1935. (repr.) South Australian Government Printer.

Cunningham, G.H. (1965). The Polyporaceae of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington.,/p>

Grey, P. & Grey, E. (2005). Fungi Down Under. Fungimap, Melbourne.

Acknowledgments:

Text and map by Heino Lepp. Image by Bruce Fuhrer.
More images of this and other fungal species available in: A Field Guide to Australian Fungi

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