A Different Kind of “Watering”

This lovely gallery of mushrooms is just a small sample of what’s in my yard. There are some even more exotic ones around my neighborhood and I swear I saw something resembling a portobello at work.

It’s all courtesy of the “monsoon September” that we had. I counted almost 14″ of rain at my house, although the official rainfall total at our airport was about half that. I will bet that they don’t have nearly the good variety of mushrooms that I do either!

After another 2.75″ on October 2, these sprang up.

One looks suspiciously like a death cap–I am not testing things out!

And You Ask Why I Don’t Mulch

I’m notorious for not mulching. I’m so notorious that people now come to me and say, “Please help. My husband wants me to mulch. Talk him out of it.”

So, with the thought that a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are a few photos.unspecified fungus

All of these photos were taken from our gardens at work where our landscaper used high quality pine bark mulch. This is some unspecified fungus on the mulch. It’s a slime mold that one the water hit it, has broken open to release its spores. Fuligo septica is the botanical name for this one. Just plain ugly is what it really is!

dog vomit fungus

Here’s some of the fungus that affectionately goes by the name “dog vomit.” Mind you, we’re in a drought situation so it’s not as if the mulch is moist.


Here are some mushrooms coming up.

mulch with weeds

And for those of you who think that mulch keeps weeds at bay? Sorry, not so much. Here’s the evidence.

So if I’m going to have to weed anyway, I’d just as soon not have to do it around all the extra fungus in the garden. But that’s just me. As I always say, if we all liked the same thing, we’d have a very boring world!

Wordless Wednesday–Nature At Work

This is the stump of a ‘Bloodgood’ Maple that was cut down several years ago (2009, if I recall).  Now a large mushroom has formed to “digest” the remains.

Here’s the stump–or what’s left of it–from another angle.  If anyone doubts that “shelf” mushrooms are bad news for trees, check out the shelf mushrooms on this stump!  They are clearly a sign of the decay process at work!

Mushrooms in the Lawn

With due apologies to all our friends suffering through drought, we here in the east have so much moisture that interesting growths are sprouting up all over.  A few weeks back I had some large mushrooms posted for my “Wordless Wednesday” photo–they were almost as large as peony blooms I said at the time.  What I’ll show you today are more “Garden variety” mushroom that spout up due to an over-abundance of moisture–and tell you what NOT to do about them.

These are probably the most common type of mushroom you’ll see.  They come in flat head types like this, and button head types like the ones shown below.

They come in a variety of colors too, and the colors can change as the mushrooms age.

This is a mushroom that starts out reddish in color in my yard and then turns to brown as it gets older.

If you walk or mow over most of these, this is what the underside looks like.  But don’t go playing amateur mycologist.  Mushroom poisoning can be impossible to reverse.  It can shut down the liver and kidneys very quickly and I’m told it is very painful.  Hardly worth it when mushrooms are not that expensive in the grocery store.

Another thing not to do–if your pet gets into these, do not waste precious time bringing them to a garden center and asking them if they are poisonous.  Garden center staff are not trained in that sort of thing. Take the mushrooms and the pet to the vet.  Remember what I said about mushrooms poisoning shutting down the liver and the kidneys.

Finally don’t waste any time or money on products designed to kill fungi in the lawn.  They are not designed for mushrooms.  Even the big Ortho Answer Book will tell you that.  Mushrooms feed on decaying matter in the soil.  That’s why you’ll often see a ring of them (called a “fairy ring”) in the lawn where a tree used to be–they’re feeding on the remnants of that tree.

So mushrooms are actually a really good sign that your lawn is healthy because it has some decaying matter on it or in it–compost or grass clippings or some such matter.  In our case in the East right now, it’s just a case of too much moisture cause too much of a good thing.  Once nature gets back in balance, so will the mushrooms.  And since it’s autumn, you can set your mower blade a little lower and just mow them off if you don’t care for the look.  Personally, I like them.