Be merry! The Green-staining Coral has recently been spotted

Green-staining Coral – (Phaeoclavulina abietina, © Stan Blanks)

Lost fungus the Green-staining Coral (Phaeoclavulina abietina) has been seen in two new locations in 2019 in Ballarat and Westgate Park in Melbourne.

This coral-shaped fruit body is small, multi-branched, yellowish, staining green all over. It grows in clusters, on the ground in deep litter. Due to the small size and often yellow-green colour, this coral could easily be overlooked. For more information on how to recognise this species check out its profile here.

Because lost fungi are rare and likely threatened we want people to record more information about these species if they are lucky enough to find them. We also want people to record when they go to places where they have been seen in the past but not observed again; these ‘zero’ or ‘absence’ data are also important for understanding the distribution of our fungi. For more information check out our identification resources.

The stronghold of this species so far is along the Merri Creek, with four locations being recorded between the inner Melbourne suburbs of North Fitzroy and Coburg. It has also reportedly been sighted this year along the Merri trail, but sadly no one has recorded it and shared their images. It is perhaps not surprising that it has been found at Westgate Park, further down the Yarra River, which the Merri joins in the Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford. It is possible spores have blown in, or being a wood rot fungi, it is likely to have hitched a ride on wood chips moved on to the site. Westgate Park only has remnant salt marsh vegetation, with the rest of this wonderful park having been regenerated with indigenous flora by an amazing team of volunteers. You should check out their fungi page too.

People in Bendigo should also keep their eyes out in the nearby Wellsford Forest. A Bendigo observer said he found the fungus growing in an area where he spreads bark and detritus left after sawing logs collected from the site.

The global map shows this species is found in Europe, Asia and North America. Closer to home, it was first sighted at Point Addison Victoria’s Surf Coast in 2012, then on the Merri Creek in 2015, and near Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand in 2017. As it is a wood rot fungus there is the chance is has recently been introduced to the region, yet these new sightings in remnant patches of native bush suggest it may also be indigenous. Molecular research could confirm if it is the same species or if we have a local look-alike that has been using the northern hemisphere name.

Confirmed observations of the Green-staining Coral (Map from Biocollect project: Lost fungi Australia).

Historically it has also been observed at least twice from Corangamite near Point Addis east of Anglesea. Another coastal location we hope people are keeping their eyes out for is in Howden, just south of Hobart. It seems to be associated with surviving remnants so we are keen if people do see it again to use our Biocollect project and record as much information about the habitat as they can. We have heard that it may also occur nearby in Tinderbox but haven’t seen any records… yet!

We encourage any locals or people visiting Namadgi National Park in the ACT, to look for this distinctive coral. As yet the data we have for it occurring here is a soil sample taken as part of the Biome of Australia Soil Environments (BASE). This BASE project was an early environmental molecular soil sampling project that has evolved into Australian Microbiome Initiative. This is an interesting example where the DNA is telling us there is hopefully a healthy fungus that will fruit at this site. Perhaps you will be the person lucky enough to find the evidence!

There are a handful more of records in the ALA but we have yet to be able to verify these observations. We are verifying data in our project and this will feed into the maps produced by the ALA (see map). Or you can join our biocollect project Lost Fungi Australia and see the data live.

For people who live near lost fungi locations we are hoping that people will begin to share regular habitat images every year or so. This way we can track and monitor the condition of these rare species’ habitat, particularly for the smaller remnant vegetation which are often disturbed or sadly lost.


Atlas of Living Australia Map from Biocollect project: Lost fungi Australia.  (Accessed 27 November 2019).

Giachini, 2011 in GBIF Secretariat (2019). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy: Phaeoclavulina abietina (Pers.) map. Checklist dataset (accessed via on 28 November 2019).