Pekepekekiore has soft and fragile fruitbodies that look like hanging coral or icicles. They were featured on a NZ$1.30 stamp in 2004.
This fungus feeds on dead wood, and its fruitbodies form only on softened, well rotted trees. There are few reports of our ancestors eating pekepekekiore, but a closely related fungus in Asia is widely eaten. Hericium erinaceus is a delicious and popular mushroom grown on sawdust in several Asian countries. Small trials have recently started in Hawke’s Bay to cultivate pekepekekiore for restaurants.
Recent research suggests that Hericium sp. may have potential as an extract for modern medicines and health. A summary of this research can be found in the article Antibacterial mushrooms.
Look for this delicate fungus, the pekepekekiore, especially in large, old rotten logs in the forest.
IMAGES: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research