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  • Writer's pictureBart Acres

What Species of Mushrooms Can (and Can't) I Grow in New Zealand?

Updated: Apr 24, 2023


Lentinula novae-zelandiae, native NZ Shiitake mushroom

Aotearoa New Zealand is a unique country, having been separated from 'Gondwana', the prehistoric supercontinent, for around 80 million years and now existing as an island nation surrounded by vast distances of open ocean. This has allowed for a very unique ecosystem of plants, animals and fungi to evolve here in near isolation for millennia, giving rise to an indigenous ecology unlike anywhere else on Earth. It is for this reason that organisms that are imported to and grown in New Zealand are strictly regulated by the government, in order to protect our native ecology, and local primary industries, from unwanted and potentially damaging introduced species.


When we look up information on mushroom growing, whether it's in books or online, it's common to see overseas material featuring a vast array of different species of mushrooms that we may not have ever seen here in Aotearoa New Zealand either in the wild or in cultivation. It's easy to get excited about the idea of growing many of these exotic and colourful fungi, but first, its extremely important to ensure that what you hope to cultivate is actually allowed to be cultivated in New Zealand.


What Makes a Mushroom Be Allowed to Be Grown Here?

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of which exact species can be grown here, let's first examine the broad categories of mushrooms that could be grown or not grown here. Mushrooms cultivated in New Zealand will fall into one of three categories: imported cultivars from overseas; mushrooms which are indigenous to New Zealand; and mushrooms which are not indigenous to New Zealand but have naturalised in the wild here (and which are not classed as a pest species / unwanted organism). In short, this means that any mushroom cultivated here must be either already naturally present here or have been legally imported via the correct channels and permit processes.


The easiest way to make sure that you are growing a mushroom that is allowed to be grown here is to source your cultures, spawn or other growing material from a legitimate and trusted supplier such as MycoLogic. All of the strains of mushrooms that we carry are legal to be grown in New Zealand and have been sourced and tested through legitimate channels with all of the necessary permits and permissions. If you wish to independently source your culture materials then there are a few additional notes that need to be taken into consideration, as failure to do so can result in potentially serious legal repercussions.


Which Species of Mushroom Can (and Can't) be Grown in New Zealand?

Reishi, a prohibited mushroom in New Zealand

Here is a list of mushroom species which are permitted to be grown in New Zealand, followed by a list of mushroom species which can't be legally grown in New Zealand. Neither of these lists are fully comprehensive - they cover the main species which are commonly of interest for people to cultivate as food or medicine. For species not on either list, you will need to carry out further research to determine if the species is able to be cultivated here.



MUSHROOM SPECIES THAT CAN BE CULTIVATED IN NEW ZEALAND:

Species

Common Name(s)

Biostatus

Agaricus bisporous

Button / Portobello / Field Mushroom

​Exotic

Agaricus bitorquis

​Field mushroom

​Exotic

Auricularia novozealandica

Hakeke / Wood Ear

Native

Boletus edulis

​Porcini

​Exotic, naturalised

Coprinus comatus

Shaggy Mane / Shaggy Ink Cap

​Exotic, naturalised

Chlorophyllum rhacodes

​Shaggy Parasol

Exotic, naturalised

Cyclocybe parasitica

Tawaka

Native

​Flammulina velutipes

Enoki / Velvet Foot

​Unknown, naturalised

Flammulina filiformis

​White Enoki / Snow Needle

​Exotic

Ganoderma sp.

Native Artist's Conk

Native

Hericium novae-zealandiae

Pekepeke-kiore / Coral Tooth / NZ Lion's Mane

​Native

Lactarius deliciosus

Saffron Milk Cap​

Exotic, cultivated outdoors

Lentinula edodes

Shiitake

Exotic

Lentinula novae-zelandiae

​Native NZ Shiitake

​Native

Lepista nuda

Wood Blewit

Exotic, naturalised

​Marasmius oreades

Fairy Ring Mushroom

Exotic, naturalised

Morchella esculenta

​Yellow Morel

​Exotic

Morchella importuna

​Black Morel

Exotic, naturalised

Pholiota glutinosa

Native Scaly Caps

​Native

Pleurotus australis

Brown Oyster

Native

Pleurotus djamor

​Pink Oyster

​Exotic

Pleurotus parsonsiae

Velvet Oyster

Native

Pleurotus pulmonarius

Phoenix Oyster

​Native + Exotic strains

Pleurotus purpureo-olivaceus

​Olive Oyster

​Native

Stropharia rugoso-annulata

​Wine Caps / King Stropharia

Exotic, naturalised

​Trametes versicolor

​Turkey Tail

​Native

Volvariella volvacea

Paddy Straw Mushroom

​Exotic

SPECIES OF MUSHROOM WHICH CAN NOT BE IMPORTED TO OR GROWN IN

NEW ZEALAND:

(Including but not limited to)

Species

Common Name(s)

Biostatus

Cordyceps militaris

​Cordyceps

​Exotic, not present

Cyclocybe aegerita

​Pioppino

Exotic, not present

Ganoderma lingzhi

​Reishi / Ling Zhi

​Exotic, not present

Ganoderma lucidum

​Reishi / Ling Zhi

​Exotic, not present

Grifola frondosa

​Maitake / Hen of the Woods

​Exotic, not present

Hericium erinaceus

​Lion's Mane

​Exotic, not present

Hypsizygus tessulatus

​Beech Mushroom

​Exotic, not present

Hypsizygus ulmarius

Elm Oyster

​Exotic, not present

Inonotus obliquus

​Chaga

Exotic, not present

Laetiporus sulphureus

​Chicken of the Woods

​Exotic, not present

Pholiota adiposa

​Chestnut Mushroom

​Exotic, not present

Pleurotus citrinopileatus

​Yellow Oyster

Exotic, not present

Pleurotus eryngii

​King Oyster

Exotic, not present

Pleurotus ostreatus

​Pearl Oyster, Blue Oyster

Exotic, not present

King Oyster Mushroom, a prohibited species in New Zealand

How to Figure Out if a Species is Permitted to be Grown Here

As mentioned above, all MycoLogic products are species which can be grown here so that's one easy way to be sure. If you want to figure it out 'from scratch' there are a couple of main tools that you can use to do this. The first is the list of permitted species to import on the MPI website (under 'what you need to do'). This is a list of non-indigenous species which have been cleared for import into NZ - however if you are to import them yourself there are several other steps to be followed including obtaining a specific importation permit or mushroom cultures (see section below about this).


The second tool that can come in handy for evaluating species is the newly revamped BiotaNZ page, a resource put together by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research which holds a comprehensive list of many plants, invertebrates and fungi along with their 'biostatus' in New Zealand (e.g. not present, present but introduced, present and endemic / indigenous etc). Using this tool you can search for the

Screenshot from BiotaNZ showing 'absent' status of Pleurotus eryngii (King Oyster Mushroom)

latin name of a mushroom and to put it simply - if it's listed as 'absent' here under the biostatus tab, then it's probably illegal to grow it here. We've attached an example screenshot of the page for Pleurotus eryngii (King Oyster mushroom) which is a mushroom that is commonly cultivated overseas and shown in many mushroom cultivation books, but which is illegal to grow here.


Importing Mushroom Cultures into New Zealand

The importation of mushroom cultures is overseen by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). There are several steps to follow for anyone wishing to import live mushroom cultures or mushroom fruitbodies into the country. This information is detailed on their 'Steps to importing fungi for growing' page. In brief, anyone wishing to import mushroom cultures or fresh mushrooms into New Zealand must first obtain an import permit - you can't simply order cultures online and get them sent to you without an import permit, even if they are on the list of permitted species. Secondly, you must make sure that the species is on the list of species approved for import (see MPI link above). Thirdly, it must be ensured that the cultures are clean, pure, correctly labelled and accompanied by the relevant phytosanitary certificates from the supplier. It is not uncommon for MPI to also perform DNA sequencing on imported mushroom cultures to ensure that they are the species that they are labelled as. This is a formal requirement for any Pleurotus (oyster mushroom) species and is done at the cost of the importer. Refer to the link above for more detailed information about this process.


Usage of Indigenous or Naturalised Fungi

Another important point of note is on the legalities and cultural considerations of sourcing and growing indigenous fungi. In New Zealand, it is illegal to remove any biological material, including mushrooms and fungi, from any DoC land such as national parks, regional parks, scenic reserves, forest parks, scientific reserves etc, without permit. Permits for collection can be applied for via DoC. Many local authorities such as city councils also have similar rules for land which they control and separate permits for any kind of collection of specimens can be applied for through the relevant governing body. Collecting of mushrooms from these lands without permit can incur significant fines or other criminal charges.


Further to this, it is important to remember that all land and territories of Aotearoa New Zealand (whether its publicly or privately owned land) falls under the terms agreed to upon the signing of the founding document Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi. This document established a legal agreement by which Māori have te tino rangatiratanga (authority, guardianship, stewardship) over the indigenous flora and fauna of this country. The details of how these laws manifest in the modern world are being increasingly delineated by various treaty claim processes such as the Wai 262 claim. In essence, it is a requirement for permission to be obtained from local iwi representatives for any collection of indigenous fungi and for them to be informed of any potential commercial usage of the organisms so that agreements can be made on how this is done.




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