Weird and wonderful mushrooms pop up around town
MUSHROOMS are popping up like wildfire around Gladstone and it's probably because of the rain.
Fungi crops have been spotted in parks, dams and backyards over recent weeks, and residents are getting curious about what type they are and whether they are poisonous.
The Observer approached the senior botanist at the Queensland Herbarium for some answers.
Nigel Fechner said the weather was a major factor.
"I think there are possibly some still poorly understood factors which promote sudden flushes of fungal activity," he said.
"But generally speaking, decent soaking rains over a set period of time during the right season - combined with other amenable environmental conditions such as compost, ashes, mulch, forest debris of logs, twigs and leaves - will often produce some stunning results."
Gladstone youngster Ashlee Heiniger, 12, took a closer look at the small mushrooms at East Shores.
She noticed they were different to the ones in her backyard.
"I have seen about three or four big ones in our backyard. They are mostly in our garden in muddy areas," she said.
"The East Shores ones were pinky-sized."
Mr Fechner said a "conservative guess" at the number of types of mushroom varieties in Australia was 10,000.
"But it could be twice that," he said.
"There's not enough people employed to study them, so we really don't have a good idea of just how rich this element of biodiversity is in Australia."
Mr Fechner said people should not eat the mushrooms they found in the wild.
"The ones that should be eaten are purchased at the supermarket," he said.
"Personally, I don't tempt my luck, even if grandma and grandpa did used to eat them by the bucket-load."
Pick up a copy of Thursday's Observer print edition to check out a range of mushrooms that have been found around Gladstone and identified by our expert, including some that are poisonous.
Rocksalt owner and head chef Jason Faint has shared his recipe for Mushroom Arancini here.
Grand Hotel chef La Toya Redman has shared her recipe for Mushroom Arancini Balls here.
If you've got a mushroom recipe that rivals the best, share it in our Your Story section here.