“What are you looking at, Punk?”

DSCN8505… a variation on a famous line from a famous movie. The answer to the question in this case is “Yes”, White Punk (Laetiporus portentosus) to be exact. On the side of our driveway is a massive Long-leaved Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx). At the beginning of winter each year a White Punk fungus grows from the same place on the trunk (see picture left).

White Punk is a polyporous fungus, meaning that the visible fruit (equivalent to a mushroom) DSCN8514consists of a honeycombed series of vertical tubes or pores that open downwards (pictured right), attached beneath a supporting layer. The top surface has a velvet-like texture. The inside of the tube walls produce the spores (seeds). The spores are dropped from the tubes when mature. The fungus itself lives within the tree. It feeds on and eventually breaks down the live wood, causing White Rot. The life of the visible fruiting body is brief. Fungus Flies (Tapeigaster sp.) (click HERE for related blog) are already clustering around the pores. They produce larvae that tunnel through the fruiting body. If the Fungus Fly doesn’t get it the possums will, based on the experience of previous years.

It has been suggested that this fungus provided a food source for Aboriginal people. It was also used as a tinder to carry fire around. It almost sounds like the first ready-cooked meal.

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