Love MacRitchie Walk – can this mushroom be eaten?

On 29 Mar 2014, six Toddycats took 18 eager participants on this Love MacRitchie Walk at Venus Loop. Through learning about the plants and animals that depend on our forest reserves to survive, participants gained a deeper understanding on the importance of keeping the Cross Island MRT Line out of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Group 1 guide, Katie Tan, sharing about the Common Mahang and symbiotic ants.

Group 1 guide, Katie Tan, sharing about the Common Mahang and symbiotic ants. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Guides and participants of Group 2. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

Guides and participants of Group 2. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

The highlight of this walk was certainly this handsome male Banded Woodpecker (Picus miniaceus). The more drab-looking female was also in the vicinity but was harder to spot. Banded Woodpeckers’ habitats are restricted to forested areas only.

Banded Woodpecker. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Banded Woodpecker. Photo by Chloe Tan.

The recent rains also revealed an amazing diversity of mushrooms and fungi that greeted us as soon as we entered the trail. “This looks like Enoki!”, remarked one of the participants, followed by the question food-loving Singaporeans always ask – “Can this be eaten?”

Well, the answer is probably a “no”, because many fungi contain mycotoxins. And there just aren’t enough mycologists in Singapore or Southeast Asia to study the phenomenal variety of fungi in our tropical rainforests. This diversity is what ensures efficient nutrient recycling in the ecosystem, as different fungi breakdown of different components of dead matter.

A few of the fungi spotted during the walk (fungus beetle in the bottom left picture). Photos by Chloe Tan and Yang Yi Yong.

A few of the fungi spotted during the walk (fungus beetle in the bottom left picture). Photos by Chloe Tan and Yang Yi Yong.

The ex-kampung area at Venus Loop also turned up several familiar fruits that looked almost ready for harvest, including the belimbing and starfruit. Scattered on the ground were flowers of the durian tree, hinting that the durian season is almost here! However, tempting as it might be to pick these fruits, always remember that you should take nothing but photographs!

Clockwise from top left: belimbing, starfruit, durian flowers. Photos by Chloe Tan and Yang Yi Yong.

Clockwise from top left: belimbing, starfruit, durian flowers. Photos by Chloe Tan and Yang Yi Yong.

Since it was also Earth Hour day, we rounded off the walk emphasizing that every individual has the power and responsibility to protect our environment and planet. More photographs of this walk can be found here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/habitatnews/sets/72157643153918993/

The next Love MacRitchie Walk by Toddycats will be held on 12 Apr 2014 (fully subscribed). If you would like to receive updates about upcoming walks, sign up on the waiting list at http://tinyurl.com/lovemacritchiewalks-wait. Find out more about the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement at http://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com.

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