Mushrooms around tree

haley45(7b)September 21, 2009

These mushrooms have started growing around a red maple tree in my front yard. I know that some mushrooms growing at the base of trees are a sign of disease that can kill the tree and any other plants growing there. Can anyone tell whether these those types of mushrooms or are these just popping up because of all the rain that we've had?

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catbird(z7 AL)

They're probably feeding on the mulch that's breaking down from all the rain and aren't necessarily a sign of a serious problem with the tree.

BUT -- you must pull the mulch away from the base of the tree! Now. Never put mulch within 6" or so of the base of a tree. It just provides a breeding place for diseases and insects which will harm the tree. You can put some low groundcover plants that withstand shade and dry conditions around it, but never pile mulch against the trunk. You can spray grass-specific herbicide or a little Roundup around the trunk to keep the weeds and grass away, but don't get close to it with a weedeater that might bite into the bark. I have mixed emotions about the rubber mulch mats the big box stores have to go around trees, but you might want to consider putting down one of those. Just be sure to keep enlarging the hole as the tree grows.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 12:04PM
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Pull them up and put them in the garbage can. If yu don't you will have many, many more.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 6:59PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Actually, mushroom spores are everywhere anyway and there may or may not be more regardless of what you do with these, particularly if this rain keeps up. They thrive on moist, decaying organic matter and don't hurt living things. I think they're kinda cute. Yours are a lot frillier than the ones growing in my front yard. You just need a couple of little frog or elf statutes to put on/under them. ;-)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2009 at 10:33PM
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Thanks for your help. I'll pull the mulch away and pull up the mushrooms tomorrow if it isn't raining again. I have tons of frog babies that can play hide and seek under there until then :) I have some creeping jenny that I can plant underneath there and it should hopefully survive. I wouldn't want to spray roundup under there because I have grape muscari planted - that's the grass looking leaves that are sprouting in the photo. I just keep pulling the grass that pops up by hand.

I have a love/hate relationship with this red maple. The builder plopped it right smack dab in the middle of our teeny, tiny front yard...right in front of our front door when looking at the front of our house. It has now matured enough since we moved in two years ago to now be able to strangle to death just about anything planted underneath it. At the same time, I love the idea that some day I might actually have some shade in my yard. I just haven't had the heart to cut it down, even though I know that I probably should do so to avoid problems down the road since it is so close to the front of our house (like 5 ft front the front sidewalk). Maybe I was secretly hoping for an excuse to put it out of its misery w/o being a tree murderer...

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Here's a picture from when May 2007 when we moved in - See what I mean?:

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 12:42AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Your house is lovely and you will love having shade on those big windows in the summer and sunshine in the winter when the leaves fall. You don't say which direction the house faces or what time of day the picture was taken, but the shadow is toward the house, so apparently it will be helpful. We have big windows facing east and west and couldn't keep those rooms comfortable till we got big maple and oak trees growing on both sides. Now it's wonderful. Just keep cutting lower limbs off till they are clear of the front walk, door, and roof.

A lot of things will thrive under high shade and you could eventually have a wide part-shade garden sweeping out from the front walk and incorporating the tree. Maple trees generally have a lot of roots close to the surface, which can make mowing tricky and make life hard for a lot of plants. You might want to look into epimedium (bishop's hat) to start around the base of the tree before the roots get so big that you can't find enough dirt to plant in. There are some nice varieties and it's a tough, dense, groundcover that will grow in dry shade and compete with roots. I have it in several spots in our yard and love it. Farther out from the tree you can put things like hostas and azaleas if you want to and are willing to water them. Just don't add soil or more than 3-4" of mulch on top of the roots -- and don't put any close to the trunk. ;-) Alice

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 11:05AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yikes, that's the worst scenario for mulching a tree. It's called the 'volcano' style, and is so bad for the health of the tree. A layer of mulch should only be about 2-4 inches deep and never piled up against the trunk (as you've heard). If you spread the mulch ring into a large cirle (remove the sod), you can use that whole big pile. Otherwise, use all of the excess else where.

When I see mushrooms growing that close to a hardwood trunk and woody roots, it sends up a red flag to me. Perhaps by removing all of the mulch you'll be able to find out of they are growing in the mulch itself or are associated with the tree.

Builders don't typically know how to plant trees, so it would be a good time to check for things like proper planting depth, removal of straps and ties, etc. That is also not a proper way to stake a tree.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 11:37AM
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tedevore(7b Al)

I would agree that its not where I would place it in the yard--blocking the line of sight too/from the front door (which might not be bad a lttle further away from the door.) That would bug me enough to take the tree out and start over.
Since trees are hopefully there for the rest of our lives, I want to make sure they are exactly where I want them. I've spent a lot getting rid of awful, moldy-soot
prone hackberry trees that were too close to my back patio and garden area behind my house. They definitely would not have been allowed there if I was the original owner.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 5:54PM
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