JAMES M. TRAPPE*,2, ANDREW W. CLARIDGE3, DEBORAH L. CLARIDGE4, 5 AND LYNETTE LIDDLE
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5752, USA 3 Department of Environment and Climate Change, Parks and Wildlife Division, Planning and Performance Unit, Southern Branch, P.O. Box2115, Queanbeyan, New South Wales 2620, Australia 4 Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 5 Aboriginal Scholar (Fenner School of Environment and Society), The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Desert Trufﬂes of the Australian Outback: Ecology, Ethnomycology, and Taxonomy. The Aborigines ofcentral Australia have traditionally used desert trufﬂes as food. Trufﬂe hunting in the desert requires substantial ecological knowledge, as trufﬂes occur sporadically and only with adequate and properly distributed rainfall as well as the presence of necessary soil conditions and mycorrhizal hosts. Trufﬂes are hunted primarily by women, who look for cracks or humps in the soil caused by expansion ofthe trufﬂes, which are then extracted with digging sticks. The trufﬂes are typically eaten raw or baked or roasted in ashes. Seven trufﬂe species are recorded from the Australian Outback, including three that have been only recently described. Key Words: Hypogeous fungi, mycorrhizae, Ascomycota, Pezizales, Pezizaceae, Elderia, Horakiella, Mattirolomyces, Mycoclelandia, Reddellomyces, Ulurua,Aboriginal use.
The use of desert trufﬂes by Aborigines of central Australia has been documented since the late 19th Century, though the tradition probably goes back for millennia (Trappe 1990). The Aborigines, like other desert-dwelling societies worldwide, are notable for their ability to survive in extreme desert conditions, and for their intimate understanding of the environmentand its biota. Seven trufﬂe species (three of which are new to science) belonging to six genera (one being new to science) have been discovered so far in the central Australian deserts, popularly known as the Outback: Elderia arenivaga, Horakiella watarrkana, Mycoclelandia arenacea, M. bulandari, Reddellomyces westraliensis, Ulurua nonparaphysata, and Mattirolomyces mulpu (Trappe
et al. n.d.).In this paper, we describe the ecology of desert trufﬂes and their uses by the Aborigines of central Australia and present a key and brief descriptions for the known species.
Trufﬂe Ecology in the Australian Outback
Published online 23 October 2008.
Desert trufﬂes fruit only in years with adequate and properly distributed rainfall and depend on othernecessary conditions of soil, climate, and suitable host plants. Australian desert trufﬂes have been observed to fruit and mature relatively quickly after soil-wetting rainfall. Aborigines are masterful at surviving in areas with extremely low rainfall (Bayly 1999), and their association of trufﬂes with seasonally wet soil is illustrated in the painting Tjintipanta by Aboriginal artist Betsy NapangardiLewis (Fig. 1). The painting depicts
Economic Botany, 62(3), 2008, pp. 497–506 © 2008, by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.
Fig. 1. Painting by Aboriginal artist Betsy Napangardi Lewis. The circles on the left are desert trufﬂes; blue areas are waterholes. The concentric circles on the right represent a claypan where theNapanangka Napangardi women danced and performed ceremonies. According to legend, the digging sticks for unearthing the trufﬂes rose up out of the water holes. The U-shapes are women with their digging sticks. (Photo courtesy of Songlines Aboriginal Art Gallery, San Francisco; all rights reserved).
abundant trufﬂes among many waterholes in the desert, as would occur only after heavy rainfall. The...