MAGICAL: Internationally-acclaimed fungi photographer Steve Axford sheds some light on the alluring bio luminescent mushrooms popping up around the North Coast.
MAGICAL: Internationally-acclaimed fungi photographer Steve Axford sheds some light on the alluring bio luminescent mushrooms popping up around the North Coast.

Magical glowing mushrooms popping up everywhere

THE phenomenon of glow in the dark mushrooms is right here on the Northern Rivers.

Internationally-acclaimed fungi photographer Steve Axford has shed some light on the alluring bio luminescent mushrooms that have been popping up around the North Coast.

Mr Axford, whose time lapse photos of bio luminescent fungi most-notably featured on the documentary Planet Earth 2 with David Attenborough, first discovered the magical looking mushroom on his Booyong property about 10 years ago.

"I was really drawn to them because of how they glowed, they are cool-looking," Mr Axford said.

"The species found here are generally Mycena chloropho … but perhaps there are more than one species.

"They are a particularly bright bio luminescent fungi that mainly grow in tropical areas along Eastern Australia, from down as far as Sydney and all the way up north. I've learnt a lot about mushrooms over the last 15 years from photographing them and working closely with mycologists."

He said the glowing mushrooms generally popped up after it has rained because they preferred wet conditions.

"They like it around 25 degrees, that's when they are at their brightest," he said.

"No one knows exactly why they glow but it's assumed it's a tactic to attract insects at night to spread their spores... it's a reproduction tactic."

He said he doubted the bio luminous fungi was poisonous and he believed they did not have psychedelic properties.

"They are also known as ghost mushrooms, which is generalised term for the dimmer glowing mushrooms," he said.

"There is a bigger one that grows around here but it's quite dim, you have to turn your torch off in the dark and wait about a minute before they will glow."

After retiring from the IT industry, Mr Axford shifted his focus onto photography 15 years ago and with his love of rainforest walks mushrooms naturally became a favourite thing to photograph.

"I started to put my photos on the internet and people quite liked them," he said.

"Then in 2012 I was approached by an American blog called This is Colossal - and my mushrooms featured on it.

"From there my fungi photos went all through the top nature mags of Europe like Nat Geo. Then producers called me from the BBC about featuring on Planet Earth 2. A lot of my fungi have ended up on about ten major documentaries including Fantastic fungi, Hostile planet and Our planet."



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