Saprobes are the group of fungi that act as decomposers, feeding on dead and also decaying hardwood, leaves, litter, and also other organic matter. To digest this they secrete enzymes that break it dvery own. This releases and recycles vital nutrients for other organisms, and also helps dispose of organic waste. Decomposers are important for the survival of ecounits.

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Saprobes are the most common kind of fungi. Many type of are as well tiny to watch with the naked eye. However, the saprobe team includes New Zealand’s best-recognized fungi via huge fruiting structures (mushrooms), including many grew edible mushrooms.

Leaving a mark

Sapstain fungi create a dark stain inside the lumber they flourish on, which reduces the commercial worth of lumber. But native wood that is stained blue-green by aboriginal cup fungi is valued for crafting right into carefully inlhelp woodware.


Many kind of saprobes develop stalked mushrooms that fruit on soil and also lumber. They include the presented ink caps (e.g. Coprinus comatus) and also field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) on grass, and ‘huge gyms’ (Gymnopilus junonius) on stumps and also lumber. In these species, the spores develop on gills beneath an umbrella-shaped cap.


Polypore fungi create spores from the inner surchallenge of tiny tubes, under a structure that juts out prefer a shelf or bracket. Instances incorporate big bracket fungi (Ganoderma species) and the annual rainbow bracket (Trametes versicolor).

The bright-ovariety pore fungus Favolaschia calocera is a mushroom, however with shpermit pores on its underside. This presented species was initially reported in New Zealand in the late 1960s. It has weed standing in many kind of indigenous forests, wright here it grows on a wide range of timber.

Crusts, corals and also cups

Other saprobic fungi build spores on smooth outer surencounters (e.g. Aleurodiscus berggrenii, a crust fungus), on coral-shaped branches (e.g. Clavicorona pyxidata, a cdental fungus) or within cup-shaped structures (e.g. Aleuria rhenana, a cup fungus). In many of these the spores are distributed on the wind.


The stinkhorns, such as the red freduced fungus Anthurus archeri, usage insects to spcheck out spores by attracting them to a sticky and stinking spore mass. They are widespread on hardwood chip mulch in gardens, and also you are likely to smell their rotting-flesh odour prior to you watch them.

Sooty moulds

Anvarious other commonly checked out team of fungi are the sooty moulds, which form black carpets over the trunks and branches of beech trees. To gain nutrients, sooty moulds break dvery own sugars in honeydew excreted by range insects that suck tree sap – the same honeydew taken by aboriginal birds and also invasive wasps.

The bootlace mushroom

Harore, the indigenous bootlace mushroom, was extensively eaten by Māori. Its English name describes the thick ribbons that weave along plant roots and through soil to uncover food. While it typically breaks dvery own dead logs and also roots, the mushroom have the right to live as a parawebsite on chop plants such as kiwifruit and radiata pine. Freshly decayed timber taken over by this fungus may emit a weak light (well-known as bioluminescence).

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Use by Māori

Māori traditionally provided a number of saprobic fungi as food, consisting of the toothed pekepekekiore (Hericium coralloides) and also basket fungus or kōpurawhetū (Ileodictyon cibarium). Puffballs such as pukurau (Calvatia gigantea) were likewise used to staunch bleeding, and as anaesthetics. The lumber ear or hakeka (Auricularia cornea) was both consumed and traded. In the late 1ninth and early 20th centuries expensive quantities of this fungus were collected and also dried by Māori, for export to China. This profession in ‘Taranaki wool’, as it was well-known, was controlled by Chew Chong, who was recognised for his contributions to the dairy and also fungus markets.