Saprobes are the team of fungi the act together decomposers, feeding top top dead and also decaying wood, leaves, litter, and other necessary matter. Come digest this they secrete enzymes that break the down. This releases and recycles critical nutrients for various other organisms, and helps dispose of essential waste. Decomposers are crucial for the survival of ecosystems.

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Saprobes space the most common form of fungi. Many are too small to see v the nude eye. However, the saprobe team includes brand-new Zealand’s best-known mushroom with big fruiting structures (mushrooms), consisting of most cultivated edible mushrooms.

Leaving a mark

Sapstain fungi create a dark stain within the timber they flourish on, i beg your pardon reduces the commercial value of timber. However native timber that is stained blue-green by indigenous cup mushroom is valued because that crafting into carefully inlaid woodware.


Many saprobes create stalked mushrooms that fruit ~ above soil and wood. They include the introduced ink hat (e.g. Coprinus comatus) and field mushroom (Agaricus campestris) top top grass, and ‘big gyms’ (Gymnopilus junonius) on stumps and also wood. In this species, the spores type on gills beneath an umbrella-shaped cap.


Polypore fungi produce spores indigenous the inner surface ar of tiny tubes, under a framework that juts out favor a shelf or bracket. Instances include huge bracket mushroom (Ganoderma species) and also the annual rainbow parentheses (Trametes versicolor).

The bright-orange spicy fungus Favolaschia calocera is a mushroom, but with shallow pores ~ above its underside. This introduced types was very first reported in new Zealand in the so late 1960s. It has weed status in countless native forests, whereby it grows on a wide variety of wood.

Crusts, corals and also cups

Other saprobic fungi develop spores on smooth external surfaces (e.g. Aleurodiscus berggrenii, a late fungus), top top coral-shaped branches (e.g. Clavicorona pyxidata, a coral fungus) or within cup-shaped frameworks (e.g. Aleuria rhenana, a cup fungus). In most of these the spores are spread on the wind.


The stinkhorns, such together the red flower fungus Anthurus archeri, usage insects to spread spores by attracting them to a sticky and also stinking spore mass. Castle are usual on timber chip mulch in gardens, and also you are likely to smell their rotting-flesh odour before you view them.

Sooty moulds

Another generally seen team of fungi are the sooty moulds, which type black carpets over the trunks and branches the beech trees. To get nutrients, sooty moulds malfunction sugars in honeydew excreted by scale insects that suck tree sap – the very same honeydew bring away by indigenous birds and also invasive wasps.

The bootlace mushroom

Harore, the aboriginal bootlace mushroom, to be widely consumed by Māori. Its English name refers to the special ribbons that weave follow me plant roots and through soil to uncover food. When it generally breaks under dead logs and also roots, the mushroom deserve to live as a parasite on crop plants such as kiwifruit and also radiata pine. Fresh decayed lumber taken end by this fungus may emit a weak irradiate (known together bioluminescence).

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Use through Māori

Māori traditionally used several saprobic fungi as food, consisting of the toothed pekepekekiore (Hericium coralloides) and basket fungus or kōpurawhetū (Ileodictyon cibarium). Puffballs such together pukurau (Calvatia gigantea) were likewise used to staunch bleeding, and as anaesthetics. The wood ear or hakeka (Auricularia cornea) to be both eaten and traded. In the so late 19th and early 20th centuries substantial quantities that this fungus were collected and dried through Māori, for export come China. This profession in ‘Taranaki wool’, as it was known, was managed by Chew Chong, that was recognised because that his contributions to the dairy and fungus industries.