Fungus in mulch

kaedeeAugust 5, 2005

Hi, I have noticed alot of different funguses(spell) that looks really weird in my flower beds this year. My flowers have not done as well and I am beginning to wonder if this is why. I planted the zinnias that bush out and they still look newly planted plus two finally died. I planted 6 verbanium ground cover plants and 3 are living but have never bloomed. Some of the funguses look like little cups with seeds inside and other look like yellow foam. How can I get rid of this? I am afraid to rake it up as a nurse friend said they had seen cases of people with fungus in their lungs from working in mulch. Can I spray something to kill this that will not hurt my plants? TIA


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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Everyone tells me the fungus in landscape bark shouldn't hurt the gardener or the garden. If it starts covering a plant, I would remove it from around that plant, but there is no way that I have found to get rid of it except time. If you have it now, you will probably have to live with it this year. With any luck, it won't stay around until next year. Usually it appears in my beds about a year or two after I put down bark, but then by the next year is gone. Sometimes if I see a big area that is especially visually displeasing, I will remove it, but when the fungus is picked up and moved, it usually releases spores that can grow more fungus. So far as health goes, I wouldn't worry about fungus outside, just don't go around smelling the sproes. The only problem I have found with mulch fungus is that it looks ugly.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 12:45PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

I had an experience with some mushroom compost last year. In late summer these gigantic mushrooms, some the size of a dinnerplate ( I kid you not ) grew everywhere in the mulch. It was nasty and gross , because when I cleaned the mushrooms out of course they went deep and I'd have this big rotting pile of them to get rid of every week. If I'd known they were just a simple eating mushroom heck I would have saved them and cooked them, but we didn't know. I wish I'd taken pictures, it was the oddest thing I've ever seen in my garden.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 4:01PM
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Oxfordvictorian(z5 NY Orange)

Good thing you did not eat them you would have been six feet under by now fertilizing your garden as you decompose.
I had a college professor whose colleague was a mushroom botanist. The guy new everything. He ate a large mushroom from his own mushroom garden and died shortly there after. NEVER eat a mushroom unless you BUY IT!!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 7:53PM
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I have noticed a white cotton-like substance growing just below the surface of my wood mulch in damp areas. There are also strange pod like growths that have recently sprouted into the most bizarre looking things. They begin in a white squishy casing about the size of an almond, then sprout with a red/brown pointed slimy pod - which flies absolutely love - crowning a pink tubular stem/root that breaks free easily when pulled from the mulch (doesn't even appear to be rooted). Are the two related? Is the strange pod on a pillar gathering flies some type of mushroom/fungus? Any clues would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 5:15PM
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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

The people at the Farmer's co-op, where I bought my fungi filled mulch, said to use sulfer. I never got around to it, but I imagine I'll have plenty to try it on next year.

I had everything from skinny grey toadstools to bright yellow surface mass fungus. Even had some that have shot out spore casings EVERYWHERE! The undersides of the elephant ears look like they have the measles.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 9:45AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

froggie, that white substance under the mulch IS the real fungal body, hard at work decomposing the mulch. These are the 'recyclers' of the planet, you might say! Yes, your particular kind of fungus is common in the fall; it's one of the stink horn fungi. If you had a picture, I could ID it for you, in case you're interested.

Anyway, as one of the decomposers, it is not harmful in any manner...other than hurting your sensibilities, lol! YUK!

It certainly is never a good idea to apply sulfur or anything else to these beneficial organisms. Sulfur could mess up the pH. If the temporary and seasonal fruiting bodies are bothersome, simply remove and dispose. That network of mycelium and hyphae will remain regardless.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 4:52PM
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okiedee(z7 SW Okla.)

There is a white fungus like growth in my cypress mulch. It is unsightly. I took a photo of it..I have two other photos but I cannot see where to put the other posted one. The white growth..looks like snow on the edges of the cypress mulch. I have not seen anything like it.
It has been over 100 degress for a few weeks now and very humid here in SW Oklahoma. We have to water something everyday. I am wondering if this white growth will harm my other plants and trees, what about people and animals?

I am hoping someone can tell me what it is. Do I use a fungicide or just let it alone and hopefully it will go away. Thanks, Dee

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 6:19PM
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hi i been a week i find a strange yellow foam on top off mulch i have cover my daughter playground, looks like sobody troat up started at night time because one day was nothing next morning i sau this yellow foam i put pesticide and remove later and i put at bag and trought at the garbage, then next morning again in differente place at the park i did the same again., then yesterday again, i so at night start as i lilte yellow spot then next morning is big like a foot , when i spray pesticede started burn then the yellow foam turn to black., i am worry about this long time i have this mulch cover my daughter playground. so known started this strange yellow foam allover, so what i should do, i am worry about the kids how play at playground i don't known please let me known

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 8:53AM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

The pesticide is probably really bad for a child to play on.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 10:43AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Val lopes's post is pretty hard to read or understand, but I'm sure glad I'm not his/her kid!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:21AM
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We just moved here the beginning of the summer and there is a lot of work that needs to be done.Nobody has lived here in about 10 years.I was cleaning out from under some holly bushes that are real thin and unkept of course,over the years the wind has blown leaves around this row of about 8 bushes.When i started raking back the leaves i was hit with the most foul smell reminded me of mucking horse stalls.Under the leaves was a mat of roots & under that a carpet of white powdery "stuff" all the way down the row of bushes.Is this just the way nature decomposes leaves or is it harmful to the bushes.How do I get rid of it?HOPING IT'S HARMLESS AND THE SUN AND AIR IS THE ANSWER TO GET RID OF IT!!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:21AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


The foul smell is probably due to an anaerobic condition down in the compacted leaves. A similar situation can be found in some non-aerated compost piles. It's not good for your shrubs because if air isn't getting down into the composting leaves, then it isn't getting into the soil beneath the leaves or the root of your shrubs. Removing the build up should be a good thing. Leaving just a little might work well as a natural mulch.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 7:51PM
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I have raked back all the leaves and every few days as it dries out I remove the next layer of composting material.I am hoping that all this white powdery like mold I found under all the leaves will go away as I introduce sun and air to it.It has began to look different.It's not as white(still powdery).Does anyone know what it will do?? Am I going to have to remove it or will it die and go away itself, in a reasonable amount of time?

Thank you for your advice,have a nice day

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 7:11AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Jelinda, don't worry about the fungus. The problem (if any) is the excessive buildup of an impermeable layer of mulch, not the fungus itself. The only things the fungus is likely to hurt is the aesthetics of your landscape and your nose. Fungi are more frequently beneficial to plants than harmful.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Mold or mycelium or actual mushrooms in your mulch are beneficial rather than harmful. They are turning your mulch into available nutrients for plant roots, practically making compost as correctly noted above. Pathogenic fungi that cause plant disease are different species, an individual fungal species causing this or that plant disease. A very weakened seedling can sometimes catch fungal rot from rotting mulch, but not a healthy robust well-kept plant. To eat a mushroom you need to know what species it is. You can't eat a mushroom without positive identification. The tale of a mycologist who just ate an unknown mushroom and died is a fairy tale, it is absolutely impossible. Store-bought mushrooms are inevitably full of insecticides, eat them at your own risk.
I feel deeply uncomfortable explaining it to grown-up people, I hope nobody minds.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 12:39PM
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