Fungi and Fire
In June 2015 Fire Management staff attended a day out with fungi experts Pam and David Catcheside to better understand the role fungi have in relation to fire and land recovery.
Did you know that fungi, comprise one of the five kingdoms of living organisms? They play an incredibly important part in our natural world by recycling organic material and improving soil health, which in turn helps our plants and vegetation thrive.
People usually associate fungi with wet forests, however they are also found after a bushfire. When a fire occurs plants and fungi can be destroyed temporarily. However fungi, like many other plants and animals are adapted to cope with the scorching heat of a bushfire and, in many cases, actually need fire to be able to fruit and reproduce.
So how do these amazing fungi that rely on fire survive? They go underground! Some fungi grow into the soil and produce a large underground compacted hardened body that allows them to survive extreme environmental threats. Going underground allows them to survive even the hottest fires and within days after the fire has past, the mushroom-like bodies begin to emerge.
A team from the department recently went to the Sampson Flat bushfire site to check out what fungi was coming back 6 months on. The team found a number of species that survived the heat of the fire and were re-established. This included a common fungi that you may have seen, the poisonous Vermillion Grissette (Amanita xanthocephala) that has an orange, red, yellow coloured cap (pictured).
Next time you are visiting a park, have a look around at the fungi you see, it may be one that has adapted to fire!