Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Fungi found at Wombeyan Caves, NSW, 6,7 April 2014

There is an album on Facebook showing the large variety of fungi I saw on the weekend.
It was wet, which the Fungi loved, but which I didn't appreciate as much as the Fungi did.
These photos are available to the public - one does not need to sign up to Facebook to view them.

Russula persanguinea

Russula persanguinea
Note the white stem, which is brittle
and the densely packed white gills

Lichen - with tint red fruiting bodies which
look to me like little red boxing gloves.

dark orange cap on Boletus.

From the underneath,
you can see the white pores,
which are easily marked.
There are many more fungi photographed, including some unusual varieties.
Go to

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Amazing red Starfish Fungus - Clathrus archeri

An amazing, huge red "Stinkhorn" fungus found on the Wombeyan Caves Road (Between Wombeyan Caves and Taralga). It is called Clathrus archeri (Also known as Anthurus archeri)

I have seen small "Starfish Fungi" which resemble this one. But I was not prepared for the huge size of these things (note the hand for size comparison).

As with all Stinkhorns", the sticky "gleba" smells like "poo" - to attract flies, to carry the spores away. to start new colonies.

 Several old ones had dried and shrunk. But two were more or less "fresh".

Strangely, it is apparently Australian in origin, but has spread to North America and Europe. Serves them right for the Rabbit, the Sparrow and thousands of  weedy plants.

But you have to admit it is weird - world class weird.
Variously called Devil's Fingers, Octopus Stinkhorn, Helicopter Stinkhorn.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Scorpion in Robertson

I have heard of Scorpions being in Robertson, but I have not seen one before.
This specimen was captured by a friend, and I asked to take its photo. It was already deceased when I was told about it.
It had walked into my friend's house, near Fountaindale Road.
It was trying to crawl under a sofa. This is reported widely as common behaviour of Scorpions in Australia.
A small Scorpion, probably a "Southern or Wood Scorpion",
Genus Cercophonius (most likely)
The general advice from Australian websites is that our Scorpions inflict painful stings, but are not fatal for humans. Good news for us in Australia. It is different in other countries.

"The Australian species can inflict a painful sting that results in swelling and pain for several hours, but there have not been any confirmed deaths of people from stings from Australian scorpions. Medical advice should be sought if you are stung by a scorpion." Museum Victoria

This Scorpion appears similar in size and general form to the Victorian species (plural) known as Southern or Wood Scorpions.  Apparently there are at least six species in the genus 

Most likely this is a
Southern or Wood Scorpion
Cercophonius squama, it is a very small species (~25mm). It tends to spend most of its life buried down under rotting logs where it consumes many small insects, incuding termites. It rarely faces predators head on (in open battle). As such is one of our least toxic scorpions.

Head on view of the Scorpion
I thought that the "pincers" (pedipalps)
were single only, but of course they are dual parts
just very finely matched, so that they appear as a single unit
when not opened to clasp prey.

Close-up shot of the pedipalp
Only in close-up can one see both sides to these pincers.

I have never had any close contact with Scorpions previously.
When we turned it over, we were surprised to see these brush-like structures
underneath the second body section of the Scorpion.
"a pair of featherlike sensory organs known as the pectines"
Source: Wikipedia

The comb-like "pectines" are visible underneath
the "mesosomal section" of the Scorpion.
Sorry about some extraneous fibres visible in this photo.
"The second segment has the pectines, sensory organs that are unique to scorpions.  The pectines are paired, comblike structures attached to a small plate called the basal piece; evidence suggests that the pectines function in evaluating textures of surfaces the scorpion is walking on and in detecting chemical substances (pheromones) used in sexual attraction." 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Corunastylis sagittifera flowers on 1 April 2014, in Kangaloon, NSW

More Orchids, of course. 

These are not as late as I first thought. I have seen them in mid-April,

But I have also seen this same species in flower in the last week in January 2011.

So, clearly they are variable in flowering time, dependent upon the seasons.

Here is a Facebook album which is accessible to all - no need to sign in for anything.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Luminous Fungi

I have seen Omphalotus nidiformis previously, but on Saturday I found some really nice, fresh ones.
Omphalotus nidiformis as seen in daylight.
scalloped edge cup with golden and grey tones on top
underneath, creamy gills resembling the "oyster mushroom" group.
They are toxic (producing vomiting), but not lethal apparently.
I certainly do not recommend ingesting them,

I decided to try something I had heard about, namely, trying to photograph them glowing in the dark.

Fortunately, my friend David Wallace was having a birthday, and he happens to have a Camera tripod. So, I cut two of the Fungi and took them to David's Birthday Party.
Happy Birthday, David - can I put these luminous fungi in a dark room, please?
What's weird about THAT?

After Liz offered the use of the main bedroom for a "dark room", I set up the tripod.
I can only set the exposure time (on my Nikon DSLR) for 30 seconds, and to get any "glow" to register, I had to opt for the maximum ISO setting available to me. So the results are very grainy.
However there are some results to see.

This is the first time I have done this.

It surprised me that they look green (on the camera) because by the naked eye, they just look dull white. But someone suggested that in fact the colour on the camera is probably accurate, just that our human eyes do not register colour in very low light conditions. Something to do with our "rods and cones".
"The retina contains two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. The rods are more numerous, some 120 million, and are more sensitive than the cones. However, they are not sensitive to color."

So there it is. In order to see in low light, we sacrifice the colour sensitivity.
The things one can learn from studying Luminous Fungi.

Omphalotus nidiformis
The gills are clearly visible in their own light

Omphalotus nidiformis
Two fungi together.
The stems are showing up black, not bioluminescent
but the gills show up really well.
The funniest thing for me, was explaining to many of the other people at David's Birthday Party what the Weird Guy in the Hat was doing showing people into Liz and David's bedroom.

It usually took people's eyes about 20 seconnds to adjust to the dark, and I discovered that the Fungi glowed more strongly when I sat on the bed and held the Fungi against my leg. Seemingly the warmth promoted the biological function which produces the luminosity.

So, nothing weird about that, right?

Happy 50th Birthday, David.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chiloglottis sylvestris and Diplodium pulchellum near Belmore Falls

I have posted photos of the Waterfall Orchid (Diplodium pulchellum) and the tiny Ant Orchid (Chiloglottis sylvestris).
These  photos have been uploaded to Facebook albums.  Each is able to be accessed by the public, without needing to be a Facebook member,

Waterfall Orchid:
Diplodium pulchellum
(Syn. Pterostylis pulchella)

Chiloglottis sylvestris:

Chiloglottis sylvestris.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Signs of Autumn in Robertson.

The small Autumn-flowering Orchids of Tourist Road are starting to flower.
In addition, the insects have been swarming and Swallows flocking and swooping in the sky above my house. I love seeing Swallows, as there was a nest built inside my house when it was only half complete. Messy, but I take the European view of Swallows as being companion animals to humans.

Eriochilus cucculatus
note the "pollinia" dislodged by an unsuccessful pollinator.
Dave Rentz advises me that this is a
"species of Conocephalus, but I would need to see a male
and its private parts to go any further.
(How’s that for dodging the issue!)"
 The small brown-coloured Tiny Greenhoods (Speculantha sp) are also starting to flower.