We are watching...
What are we looking for? See the list we are working on below.
Examples of observation sheet to report species
Observation sheet to report species
Please email the sheets and photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org
OR fill in this online form.
When you spot any of these species, please take note if these fungi are close to or in native plants areas.
Our first target group of mushrooms are ecto-mycorrhiza (fungi having special relationships with the roots of plants). South Africa does not have many native ecto-mycorrhiza. Most of what we have are introduced with their non-native hosts.
Our job is to keep on developing this list of ecto-mycorrhizal genera (and their species), and to note the locations, habitats and especially close by hosts (usually trees) of these fungi.
Due to their cryptic occurrence, fungi can be inadvertently and unknowingly moved. The impact of the introduction of non-native fungi on our native fungi or plants, or fungi becoming invasives, are barely touched. Some fungal species have very large global distributions that may or may not be natural, and South Africa may thus just form part of this distribution. DNA sequence data may also reveal that SA samples could be unique from similar looking species identified elsewhere in the world. These statements are only assumptions since there is no solid set of occurrence data yet to support this, and fungi are thus not on any formal governmental lists.
The most species that we know the names of in South Africa most likely are introduced or have a global distribution. This is largely because identification of our fungi is based on knowledge generated elsewhere, such as North American field guides. Very few fungi have actually been described, or are known, only from South Africa, with a couple more also known in other African countries that could form the natural range of the species. The irony is that the majority of our unknown fungi most likely are truly native and even endemic to South Africa, yet most of our knowledge comes from fungi that most likely was introduced.
The project featured on this page started to actively generate data that can finally be used to formally define the residency status (whether native, introduced, invasive, etc.) of species. A number of studies have looked at introductions of plant pathogens, but other types of ecological types have not been studied. We first focused on the Western Cape province, and only fungi that are ectomycorrhizal (forming symbiotic relations with plant roots), since these fungi most likely were brought in with the numerous non-native hosts in the past. However, information on ectomycorrhiza from the rest of the country will also be very useful. This may also help us to define ectomycorrhiza from our native plants, of which we really know very little of.