Fungi are amazing—they seem to pop up from nowhere overnight, especially after the autumn rains. The colours of some can be quite brilliant, while others are dull. Some are extremely tiny, while some are the size of dinner plates. Some are here one day and gone the next, others last for weeks, or in the case of the bracket fungi, for years.
Their shapes vary considerably also. Many of them do not look like a regular mushroom. There are woody brackets, thin fans, coral types, jelly-like blobs, honey-combs, cups, and flat sheets that look like a coat of paint.
There are many fungi in New Zealand and the majority are not poisonous, but because they are often difficult to identify one should avoid eating any unknown fungus. In all cases it is the reproductive structure that we call the toadstool or mushroom that may be eaten.
The term ‘mushroom’ is usually restricted to the edible species of Agaricus that are commonly sold or collected growing in grassland.