Myristica swamps are an ancient ecosystem dominated by evergreen trees of the Myristica genus.The swamps of Kerala are a haven of species endemic to the Western Ghats, particularly amphibians and reptiles. Most recently, researchers have discovered a new mushroom species from the Kerala swamps.A new genus of an endemic frog was discovered in the Kerala’s swamp in 2013. Now, researchers have unraveled its cryptic breeding behaviour consisting of a diverse male call repertoire and a peculiar choice of site to lay eggs.In 2018, more swamps were discovered in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, further extending their currently-known northernmost most distribution from Goa. It was a bright afternoon after two days of heavy rain in Kerala and Professor P. Manimohan’s two Ph.D. students K. P. Deepna Latha and K. N. Anil Raj were scouring the freshwater Myristica swamps of Kulathupuzha in Kerala’s Kollam district for fungi. Their gaze fell on a group of pale brown mushrooms sprouting amid the sandy soil among the decaying leaf litter. Intrigued, they examined and noted the morphological features—size, colour, shape, and texture—of the fungi and plucked out some samples to take back to the lab. A molecular analysis revealed that it was a new species—they named it Laccaria violaceotincta after its violet-tinted gills and published their findings in the journal Phytotaxa earlier this year. Laccaria is a genus of mycorrhizal fungi that forms an association with host trees. Previously, only nine species of Laccaria have been found in India and four of them have been described from Kerala. A cluster of Laccaria violaceotincta sprouting amid the sandy soil and decaying leaf litter in the Myristica swamps of Kerala – an area found to be rich in fungi species. Photo by K. P. Deepna Latha. The discovery was part of an ongoing effort to document the mushrooms of Kerala by the group at the University of Calicut. In fact, Manimohan’s teams have previously discovered and published about 222 new mushroom species over the past 30 years. “We have not been focusing on the swamps for the discovery of mushroom species, but now we plan to focus more on the swamp as we have found them rich in mushroom species,” Manimohan said. “They have to be protected at any cost.” Tucked away amid the low-lying valleys of the evergreen tropical forests of the Western Ghats—a biodiverse hotspot—lie patches of a special kind of ancient ecosystem: the Myristica swamps. As the name suggests, these swamps are dominated by evergreen trees of the Myristica genus belonging to the Myristicaceae family, one of the most primitive families of flowering plants found in the tropics and renowned for the nutmeg tree species. Many of the swamp trees feature distinct aboveground roots that can withstand the waterlogged swampy conditions.