The great news early in 2019 was that a second population of the the Stemless Earpick – (Auriscalpium sp. ‘Blackwood’) was found by fungi observer extraordinaire Reiner near Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges East of Melbourne.
The Stemless Earpick is a small brown laterally attached fungus has relatively long brown teeth. It is fleshy in texture, but not gelatinous (read more in the species profile). It has been found growing from the stringy bark of the Narrow-leaved Peppermint Gum (Eucalyptus radiata). For a more detailed description of this species check out the lost fungi profile page. The lost fungi are likely rare and threatened fungi that Fungimap is encouraging data collection for to help understand and conserve them better.
The first population of the Stemless Earpick was observed by the FNCV Fungi group in 2005 in the Jack Cann Reserve, near Blackwood, to the north-west of Melbourne. This species has been observed by the group on the same buttress of a Narrow-leaved Peppermint Gum in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.
Originally it was unclear if this was a hitchhiker fungus from somewhere else in the world or a poorly known indigenous species. Work by the Royal Botanic Gardens Willis Student Brian Clauss confirmed it as a local species and we hope his and Dr Tom May’s taxonomic work will be published to give it a scientific binomial.
Work continues on this species using its ‘tag’ name of Auriscalpium sp. ‘Blackwood’ and a conservation assessment was done to improve management of this rare species. This species is now considered Endangered. This assessment was done as part of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Australasian Fungi Red List Workshop held in Melbourne at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, in July.
The new population site was also visited by the Red List team in Melbourne for the workshop. This enabled the team to better understand the population in Olinda, which again is only on a single tree which was confirmed to also be a Narrow-leaved Peppermint Gum, meaning both populations have the same host.
It is interesting that Reiner observed for the new site that there was evidence of recent fire. One of the important conservation questions to answer is how fire affects this species which fruits on the rough bark on the buttress. This second population was fruiting when the Red List team visited,with many fruit bodies appearing, mostly on the southern side from the ground to more than 2.5 meters up the trunk. Detailed observations like these will help understand the biology of these lost fungi.
Fungimap is encouraging people to record any sightings either using their iNaturalist project or if you have good habitat data their Biocollect project. It is hoped that Conservation Assessment of likely rare and threatened Australasian fungi will be undertaken every few years. Regular assessments let us know if populations are healthy or if threats are increasing the risk of extinction.
Clauss B 2018 Please don’t pick your ears! Fungimap Newsletter 59: 7-8.
Global Fungi Red List Initiative Auriscalpium sp. ‘Blackwood’ (Accessed 27 Nov 2019).
Hubregtse, J CC-BY-NC-SA 2018 Fungi in Australia, Revision 2.2. Field Naturalists Club of Victoria Inc. E-published at FNCV.
May, T. 2019. Auriscalpium sp. nov. ‘Blackwood’ . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T154932417A154932424. Downloaded on 01 January 2020 (Accessed 2 January 2020).