Fungi glowing concern

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Fungi glowing concern

Glowing biolumiscent fungi has attracted thousands of tourists to Ghost Mushroom Lane in Glencoe at night-time during recent years, but there is concern the rare glowing green mushrooms may be disappearing.

Unusually warm, dry weather delayed the start to last year’s season but the mushrooms soon bloomed in abundance to the delight of 2000 happy visitors.

However, the season came to a standstill shortly after with low mushroom numbers preventing a value-for-money experience and bookings were closed in late May.

A lack of growth in the bright fungi has Forestry SA considering changing its arrangements this year in an effort to still show visitors the spectacle if there is a continued decline.

Forestry SA chief executive Tim Ryan said weather and the ever-changing lifecycle of the commercial pine plantation have all played a part in changing ghost mushroom numbers in the renowned area.

“However, it’s possibly more a question about when the mushrooms are in fruit and for how long,” he said.

“The natural cycle of the mushroom affects whether we are able to provide public access at a specific site like Ghost Mushroom Lane.

“Many people in the area have noticed the mushrooms coming out earlier in the season, however, the opening of our seasonal visitor site also relies on other factors, such as set-up and the end of the fire danger season.

Mr Ryan said while it could not be completely confirmed, it was likely that changes in seasonal weather and periodic forestry operations and changes in the life cycle are the reason fewer ghost mushrooms numbers are growing at the site.

“The site is located within a working forest, so there are natural changes over time as the trees are thinned and the forest becomes more open. Eventually the forest is replanted and the cycle starts again.

“We have seen fantastic fruiting around Mother’s Day in some years with high mushroom numbers until the end of June, while in other years it all happens during April.

“Basically, the mushrooms are finicky and we’re at the complete mercy of Mother Nature!”

While ghost mushrooms grow on rotting pine stumps in many areas of the forest, Ghost Mushroom Lane is well known for its abundance of big, bright mushrooms.

The site’s close proximity to Mount Gambier and sealed roads also made it accessible to visitors in the dark of night, helping tens of thousands of visitors get out into the forest and experience the mushroom’s glow for themselves.

Mr Ryan said Forestry SA was working to find a better way of doing things in the season ahead, with new locations and models of operation all part of the plan.

“We cannot change Mother Nature, the lifecycle of the forest, or the periodic silvicultural operations which must be carried out within a commercial pine forest,” he said.

“But we acknowledge that ghost mushroom hunting has become a bucket-list tourism experience for many.

“Guided tours are certainly a great way to ensure visitors see the best mushrooms possible.

“The presence of a tour guide and small group numbers may mean visitors can safely access other spots, away from the main visitor site.

“Of course, we’d love to hear your ideas too. If you have a glowing idea about mushrooms please get in touch!”

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