Favourite Fungi

Fungi. More closely related to animals than plants, and with 36,000 genders, the kingdom of fungi is full of surprises.

Largely ignored or misunderstood, their presence in a garden is essential for soil health. The few that we’re familiar with are generally pathogens, and some of those are indicators of poor horticulture.

The truth is, most fungi don’t even have a scientific name.

Coprophilous fungi specialise in digesting dung. These ‘dung fungi’ are a diverse group which employ grazing animals for transportation, and for improving their reproductive success. Koala and possum dung contains these fungi, and to continue their life cycle, these fungi are able to get their spores from the ground, where toadstools produce them, up and into the foliage eaten by these marsupials.

Dung also contains protozoa, mites, springtails and algae and many more microscopic life forms. Together with fungi, they collectively improve soil, helping dung to decompose and release its goodness.

Coprophilous fungi even provided the clues that helped establish that it was humans, not climate change, that caused the extinction of Australia’s megafauna.

If a seed is a whole plant, packed and ready to travel through time and space, then dung is it’s ecosystem equivalent.

Microscopic mycorrhizal fungi are the most exciting. These hold the key to plant health, plant nutrition and, thanks to the research at the Rodale Institute (USA), they are also the key to rapidly mitigating climate change.

Here’s a few favourite fungi, if you want to dig deeper, watch Paul Stamets ‘Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World’