They are the shadiest characters living in Dunedin. They feed
off death and live underground, off the beaten track. And on
Saturday, about 30 people got close to them.
They're Dunedin's fungi.
Mycologist and University of Otago senior lecturer Dr David
Orlovich led the group through Dunedin Botanic Garden to find
some of the woodland's most elusive living species as part of
the New Zealand International Science Festival's BioBlitz.
Dunedin had a particularly rich array of fungi because of the
age of the city, he said.
''Our town has been established for a long time and there's a
lot of introduced plants here and, therefore, there's a lot
of introduced fungi.
''You see a lot of things here that you won't find anywhere
else [in New Zealand].''
Dunedin also had long-term links to mycology - the study of
Dr Orlovich said he felt ''privileged'' to follow in the
footsteps of the likes of Emeritus Prof Geoff Baylis, the
University of Otago's first professor of botany.
Dr Orlovich had an understudy in 8-year-old Jarn Hollows.
''It's quite interesting,'' Jarn told the group.
''But we need to find some real fungi.''
The group found about 10 specimens during the walk, but the
best time to find fungi was earlier in the year, Dr Orlovich
''We get the main flush in autumn and ... a smaller flush and
different species in the spring,'' he said.
And what advice did he offer amateur fungi fossickers?
''You are never going to find them if you don't look.''