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Plectania campylospora : Cooke illustrationAustralia's Gondwanan and Asian connections

A significant number of fungi found in Australian, while neither cosmopolitan nor pantropical, still show a wide distribution - being also found in South America, Asia or Africa. In some cases this reflects a Gondwanan origin, while in others a later migration to or from Asia. In this section you will see some examples of these fungi.

Species with an Australasian - South American distribution

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Mycena interrupta

Mycena interrupta is a saprotrophic mushroom, found on forest litter in the damper areas of south-east Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Chile in Eucalyptus and Nothofagus forests. There are a number of other Mycena species which show varying forms of Gondwanan distribution. All the species of Mycena are small, saprotrophic mushrooms but not all are Gondwanan. In fact the genus Mycena is found worldwide. However, within Mycena there is considerable variety in the distributions of species. Thus, there are numerous species confined to the temperate areas of Europe, others are found only in Central America, others in both Europe and North America and so on. Thus, a genus need not be restricted in distribution though certain subgroups of species within the genus may be. Presumably a very ancient and widespread parent "Mycena" split into separate lineages, in Pangaean times, with the various lineages evolving separately in Gondwanan and non-Gondwanan areas, but maintaining enough commonality to justify grouping all into the same modern genus.

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Laetiporus portentosus

Podoserpula pusio link to image, a basidiomycete with an unusual tiered growth form, is found in east and west Australia, New Zealand and Venezuela. The underside of each layer is smooth to slightly wrinkled - no gills, pores or spines.

Various polypores have an Australasian-South American distribution. Aurantioporus pulcherrimus (formerly Tyromyces pulcherrimus) occurs in Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand and southern Brazil. Laetiporus portentosus (formerly known as Piptoporus portentosus) is quite common in the dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands of the ACT but has a wider distribution in Australia and is also found in New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. Similar patterns are shown by Neolentiporus maculatissimus (formerly Piptoporus maculatissimus), Ryvardenia cretacea (formerly Piptoporus cretaceus) and Ryvardenia campyla (once known as Tyromyces campylus or Grifola Campyla). The sheet-like but pimpled fruiting bodies of the corticioid species Hyphodontia australis link to image are fairly common in southern Australia. The original description, published in 1879, was based on a specimen collected from Tasmania. Since then it has also been found in New Zealand and southern Argentina.

Species found in Australasia - Africa - South America

The polypore genus Phaeotrametes has just one species, Phaeotrametes decipiens. The genus is unusual in some of its microscopic features and not obviously closely related to any other polypore genus. Leif Ryvarden, an expert on the polypores of the world, thinks it to be an archaic genus and a "living fossil". It shows a Gondwanan distribution, being found in temperate Australia (both east and west), Brazil, Uruguay, Madagascar and the nearby east African mainland.

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Phaeotrametes decipiens
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Macrohyporia dictyopora


Another polypore, the sheet-like polypore Macrohyporia dictyopora is found in eastern Australia (from Queensland to Victoria), Argentina, Reunion Island and east Africa. The ascomycete Cookeina colensoi [] is found in tropical Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Madagascar.

Species of Australasia-Asia-Africa

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Microporus xanthopus

Many species are found in Australasia and one or both of southern Asia and Africa. Some of these will probably be tropical Asian species which have migrated to northern Australia, others are likely to be of Gondwanan origin.

The saprotrophic polypore Microporus xanthopus is one of the commonest fungi in tropical areas from Australia through to Africa, but is not found in the American tropics. It can be found on rotting wood of numerous tree species in the wet, forested areas. As a whole the genus Microporus is found in Australia, many parts of Asia and tropical to south-temperate Africa.


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Phlebopus marginatus

The bolete Phlebopus marginatus is found in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. You will see it under the older name, Phaeogyroporus portentosus, in a number of field guides dealing with Australian fungi. This species is very close to the African species Phlebopus sudanaicus - and possibly identical. While the genus Phlebopus is found in South America, the species Phlebopus marginatus is not found there.


illust: Lignosus rhinocerus illust: Flabellophora superposita

Lignosus is a tropical polypore genus with four species. In Australia Lignosus rhinocerus is found in Queensland. Outside Australia it occurs in Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu. Species of Lignosus are unusual for polypores because in each case the fruiting body consists of a cap on a central stem (which occurs in few polypore genera) and grows from a sclerotium in the ground (which is even rarer), rather than from wood as is the case with most polypores. Another species of Lignosus has been found in Papua New Guinea and Africa, and the remaining two species are confined to Africa.


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Fomitopsis lilacinogilva

Another polypore, Flabellophora superposita, occurs in northern NSW, Papua New Guinea, Borneo and Malaya and the usually bracket-like polypore Fomitopsis lilacinogilva (once known as Trametes lilacinogilva) grows in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Africa. The leathery-textured, mushroom-like fruiting bodies of Lentinus sajor-caju link to image is found in Australia and through Asia to Africa, generally in the tropical to sub-tropical parts of those areas. The cup-like fruiting bodies of Plectania campylospora link to image (up to 5 centimetres in diameter) are found in Australia, New Zealand and parts of southern Asia as far west as Sri Lanka.