After a couple of weeks trying to track down an Entoloma hochstetteri I managed to find not just one, but six! Jackpot! Sometimes photography is just about being a lucky bastard. At the Tinline campsite on the Abel Tasman coastal track, there is a nature trail loop. I’ve been making it a habit to make my rounds in the morning in search of any neat looking fungi that sticks out. Hidden amongst the green moss blanketing a tree, the blue stuck out and as I got closer, I realized I’d found it.
An Entoloma hochstetteri is famous for being on the back of the NZ $50 banknote and is the only banknote in the world to have a mushroom on it. As more people push for natural ingredients researchers have been trying to cultivate the fungi to produce blue food coloring. The Maori name for the Entoloma hochstetteri (werewere-kōkako) gets its name from an old Tuhoe story, in which the kōkako rubs its wattle on the mushroom, taking on its color. It is such an unusual color to see in the New Zealand green forest, so when you stumble across them it’s a pretty spectacular fungus to find…kind of almost surreal.
Although blue, a tell-tale sign of psilocybe/psilocybin found in the psychedelic variety of mushrooms, the Entoloma hochstetteri is not, as it does not “bruise” blue.
As I continued my hike through the nature trail, I felt like I had a trusty sidekick next to me.
The fantails are super sociable birds and sound like when you step on your dog’s squeaky chew toy a bunch of times. This one pointed me in the right direction, and I stumbled across a baby amanita muscaria (fly agaric) and some other fungi before showing off for an opportune pic.
On my way back home along the coastal track, I had to do a double take as I found hundreds of what appeared to be hypholomas covering a tree branch. I had never seen so many densely packed together before and it was quite an unusual sight. The entire national park reminds me of the movie Annihilation. Everything is surreal and alien and the park is a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don’t apply.