Photographing Fungi – What’s Needed for an ID


The change in temperature and recent rains have encouraged many Fungi species to begin fruiting, with 619 observations being uploaded so far this month.

Fungi is a hyper-diverse group, with an estimated 275,000 species in Australia with only around 15,000 species formally named. Of those, only the macrofungi (5,000 described) and lichens (4,000 described) are potentially of suitable size to be photographed in the field.

With many species yet to be described, and those that are described being frequently done so with characteristics and traits not visible in field photographs (i.e. spore features), obtaining an accurate species level ID from a few photographs can be difficult for many species. The exception being those that demonstrate distinct features not known to be present in other species. Nevertheless a Genus or Family level ID can still be of significant value.


Recommended Photos

In very general terms, you’ll want to record as many features as possible, which is not often achievable with a single photo.

For fruiting bodies in the form of a mushroom (stem/stipe and cap/pileus), you’ll want to photograph the cap at a slight angle from above, from the side to show the edge of the cap and stem, and the cap underside to show the gills/pores. The same photo set, above/side/underside, is also suitable for Bracket Fungi.

Each angle will provide additional visual characteristics that will help to narrow down the ID. Here is an example of an Amanita xanthocephala, a native species in the same Genus as the introduced Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), showing photos taken from several angles.



Additional photos that may help include a wider angle photo showing the substrate (wood/soil) and surrounding vegetation/environment, and a photo with a scale.

Photographing the underside can be difficult, and destroying the fruiting body just for a photo is certainly not recommended. The easiest method is to bring along a small mirror that can be placed underneath, and the reflection photographed. Any small mirror is suitable. A small makeup mirror works well, or one can be purchased from the FungiMap shop.


Uploading to FungiMap

FungiMap is a not for profit, citizen-science organisation dedicated to furthering the conservation and knowledge of Australian fungi. Fungi observations uploaded to iNat can also be uploaded to the long running FungiMap project. This Traditional Project requires that observations be added manually and that a few additional Observation Fields be included, i.e. Fungus Habitat & Fungus Substrate.


Further Fungi Info

If you are new to Fungi, this Glossary of Terms might come in handy when discussing features.

For further info on macroscopic features of Fungi check out THIS detailed page by the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Looking for the bioluminescent Ghost Fungus? While the ForestrySA ‘Ghost Mushroom Lane’ is closed this year, this species, Omphalotus nidiformis, also grows throughout the Adelaide Hills and can be found during May/June. Keep an eye out for local records uploaded to iNat. If the location is suitable and the growth stage just right, it might be worth stepping out into the cold one night to check it out. ForestrySA also has a guide to photographing the Ghost Fungus. Suggested exposure time is from 20 seconds to several minutes depending on the intensity of the bioluminescence.

And while you are searching for Fungi, don’t forget to record the Invertebrates feeding on the Fungi (i.e. Springtails), the Bryophytes (Mosses, Liverworts, Hornworts), the Orchids and the Sundews.