Caine Barlow is a mycologist and fungi educator who has been cultivating and studying fungi for 14 years. In 2019 he completed a Master's degree where his research project was to predict a preliminary conservation status for many Australian fungi. He also has a horticultural qualification and recently completed his PDC. Caine is vice-president of MYCOmmunity Applied Mycology, and volunteers his time with Entheogenesis Australis, and The Australian Psychedelic Society. He writes for DoubleBlind, Mushroom Revival, Mushroom Mountain, and is also a regular contributor, “trusted identifier” and administrator on a variety of fungi oriented website forums and Facebook groups. He blogs about cultivation techniques and ethnomycology on his Instagram account "Guerrilla Mycology”.
Australian medicinal fungi, their conservation, and cultivation
Australia has a diverse range of endemic fungi, some of which are considered traditional medicines. As our perspective shifts, it becomes clear that they are medicinal not just for us but also for whole ecosystems. How can we better observe and interact with these species, so vital in forest ecologies? How can we be more ethical in our use of these species, and minimise our dependence on natural populations? These traditional medicines include Ganoderma, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps. In some cases, how some of these fungi are considered medicinal becomes problematic. There are concerns about the ethics of wild harvesting, and questions about what fungi are being harvested given there is uncertainty about what species may be present in our forests. Sadly, Australian fungi are poorly understood - through the dedicated work of citizen scientists data about population distributions exist, but how those populations fluctuate is poorly known. Some groups need to be reassessed, with potentially new species currently undescribed. Few of these species have undergone a thorough pharmacological analysis. In this talk, I will discuss Australian medicinal fungi and their role in the forest, discuss conservation issues, and how citizens scientists are contributing to a better understanding of species. To complement the talk, in the last half, I will broadly introduce methods of how to cultivate these fungi, without having to damage wild populations.