Tricounty News

Fungi here, fungi there, mushrooms everywhere

As a result of the wet, humid weather, mushrooms are app-earing in many lawns. Home-owners are often searching for a safe, effective fungicide that will make them disappear.   Unfortunately, such a fungicide does not exist and there is little to do but let nature takes its course. Mushrooms in lawns are the reproductive, spore-producing parts of fungi that are decomposing organic matter found in the soil. These fungi often live off dead roots and chips of wood left behind when a tree or shrub died or was otherwise removed. Another source of food for the fungi is wood that has been buried following home construction. Fungi are actually an important part of nature's recycling system and return the nutrients from the decomposing wood to the soil. Once the material they are living on has been fully broken down and the nutrients returned to the soil, their work is done and the mushrooms disappear. Depending on the size of the roots or wood left underground, complete decomposition could take several years or more. In the meantime, the fungi produce mushrooms whenever conditions are moist. They are rarely a problem during hotter, drier weather. There is nothing to apply to the lawn that will eliminate the mushrooms. It usually is not practical, even if it were possible, to remove the decomposing wood from the soil. The mycelium from the mushrooms may extend three feet or more into the soil if there is a food source present. You can break the mushrooms up with a rake or hoe and let them dry up. If small children play on the lawn, you might be wise to pick the mushrooms up and dispose of them in the event that they are a species that contains toxins. Don't be surprised if you remove them one day, only to find a whole new batch the next morning. Slime molds are a fungi-like organism that is being found on home lawns, in flowerpots and in wood mulch around ornamentals. They usually appear as white, yellow, gray or purplish-brown, jelly-like masses. As they dry, they appear crusty and powdery and are sometimes described as looking like "dog vomit." Slime molds are not parasitic and do not cause plant disease. Control is usually not necessary and they will disappear during hot, dry weather. Slime molds may be washed, brushed, or raked from affected areas and mowing will quickly remove them from growing grass.