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Fungal fans get high for latest foray

Fungal fans get high for latest foray

Fans of the fascinating world of fungi are about to get high quite literally, with the 19th annual New Zealand Fungal Foray set this year in Ohakune.

Fungal Forays are held every autumn in a different region of New Zealand, and attract participants from both the science world and the general public. The focus this year is on high-altitude and alpine fungi, especially fungi in the beech forests and surrounding alpine areas of the Tongariro National Park. Foragers will keep an especially keen eye out for fungi associated with alpine sedges, about which very little is known.

This year’s Foray is being held a month earlier than usual, because fungi fruit earlier at higher elevations. Fungi are collected each Foray day with the Department of Conservation’s permission, and identified and preserved for national collections.

Landcare Research mycologist Dr Peter Buchanan says the 50 or more participants will be based at ski lodges in Ohakune. The number includes visiting researchers from Australia, Thailand, England and Spain, and from Switzerland, the foremost authority on New Zealand mushrooms, Dr Egon Horak.

Because of the growing numbers of people involved, an incorporated society will be formed during the Foray. The Fungal Network of New Zealand will be open to anyone with an interest in fungi, and will seek to promote awareness and protection of fungi.

The Foray will also include a day-long workshop on Tuesday, to learn identification of wax gill fungi, a very colourful group of mushrooms. There will also be a Colloquium Day on Thursday, with papers and presentations about fungal research and fungal novelties.

Students from Kimbolton School in rural Manawatu will travel up for the Foray on Friday.

Dr Buchanan says at present only about one-third of of our fungi have been described and identified. “Events like the Foray help us to gain new knowledge about New Zealand’s unique native fungi.”

The 19th annual New Zealand Fungal Foray: Ohakune, Sunday April 3 – Saturday April 9. Media are welcome to attend the event at any time.

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