You are here: Home Fungi in Mulch

Fungi in Mulch

Landscape mulches are used to protect soil, conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature, and limit weed growth, as well as beautify and unify landscape plantings. Most mulches are mixtures of shredded wood and bark residues from lumber and paper mills, arboricultural and land-clearing operations, and wooden pallet disposal or recycling facilities.

Like other organic matter, wood and bark decompose over time. The primary organisms involved with their decomposition are bacteria and fungi which derive their energy for growth from the carbon-based compounds found in wood and bark. These compounds include cellulose, lignin, and simple sugars. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that are not visible in the mulch. Fungi also may be microscopic, but many develop visible reproductive structures.

The fungi involved in the decomposition of landscape mulches are natural components of the environment. Some fungi, such as the artillery fungus, are “recyclers” and break down woody tissue directly. Other fungi, such as slime molds, consume bacteria and other organisms living in the mulch. These fungi are not harmful to landscape plants and no known health hazards are associated with them unless they are eaten. They can be found April through October, usually following rainy weather.

This publication describes four common types of fungi growing in landscape mulches in the eastern United States—mushrooms, slime molds, bird’s nest fungus, and the artillery fungus.

Mushrooms

Scientific names: Many different fungi produce mushrooms

What do mushrooms look like? They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes ranging from less than an inch to several inches tall. Some are soft and fleshy and disappear soon after they emerge; others may remain in mulch for a few days, weeks, or an entire growing season.

Are they a problem? They may be poisonous if eaten.

What should be done? Appreciate their beauty; ignore them; or remove them.

Artillery Fungus (Shotgun or Cannon Fungus)

Scientific name: Species of Sphaerobolus

What does artillery fungus look like? They resemble a tiny cream or orange-brown cup with one black egg. The cup is approximately 1/10 of an inch in diameter. Areas of mulch with the artillery fungus may appear matted and lighter in color than the surrounding mulch.

Are they a problem? They may be a problem. The fruiting body of the artillery fungus orients itself towards bright surfaces, such as light-colored houses or parked automobiles. The artillery fungus “shoots” its black, sticky spore mass, the “egg,” which can be windblown as high as the second story of a house. The spore mass sticks to the side of a building or automobile, resembling a small speck of tar. You may also find them on the undersides of leaves on plants growing in mulched areas. Once in place, the spore mass is very difficult to remove without damaging the surface to which it is attached. If removed, it leaves a stain. A few of these spots are barely noticeable, but as they accumulate, they may become very unsightly on houses or cars.

What should be done? To date, there are no known controls for this fungus. With support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and private mulch producers, Penn State researchers are studying the problem. They hope to find a wood or bark mulch on which the artillery fungus will not sporulate. One horticulturally sound solution to the artillery fungus problem is to replace wood-based mulch with other types of mulch, such as black plastic or stone, in critical areas adjacent to home and parking areas.

Slime Molds (Dog Vomit Fungus)

Scientific names: Species of Phrsarum, Fuligo, and Stemonitis

What do slime molds look like? They start as brightly colored (yellow, orange, etc.) slimy masses, that are several inches to more than a foot across. They produce many tiny, dark spores. These molds dry out and turn brown, eventually appearing as a white, dry powdery mass.

Are they a problem? No, these fungi are “feeding” on bacteria growing in the mulch. They are normally a temporary nuisance confined to small areas.

What should be done? The fungus may be left in place to decompose. If its appearance is offensive, discard the fruiting bodies in a compost pile, the household garbage, or a spot in the yard away from the existing mulch.

Bird’s Nest Fungus

Scientific name: Species of Crucibulum and Cyathus

What do they look like? They resemble tiny grey to brown bird’s nest or splash cups with eggs. The nest is up to ¼ inch in diameter.

Are they a problem? These fungi may grow in large areas of mulch, but they are not a problem. The “eggs” are masses of spores that splash out of the nest when hit by a raindrop. The spores occasionally stick to surfaces, as do the spores of the artillery fungus, but they are easily removed and do not leave a stain.

What should be done? These naturally occurring fungi decompose organic matter and do not need to be removed. They are interesting to look at—show them to children

Source: Elizabeth A. Brantley, Donald D. Davis, Larry J. Kuhns

Contact Us

8793 Kenwood Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Office/Landscape
(513) 984-8733

Store
(513) 891-9035

E-mail: questions@bloomingarden.com

Garden Centre

Garden Centre

Bloomin Garden Centre is committed to selling high quality plants and products, while providing the expert knowledge necessary to maintain a beautiful landscape. We are constantly striving to provide excellent customer service to anyone who walks through our doors. To do this, we employ a qualified staff of certified nursery technicians who have a passion for helping our customers and gardeners be successful. At Bloomin Garden Centre, you will always find an outstanding selection of trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials and annual flowers in season.

visit the Garden Centre page

Celebrating 25 Years of Growing With You

Celebrating 25 Years of Growing With You

This year we are celebrating our 25th year in business! We are so grateful to have such loyal customers who have fertilized our business through trust and patronage. We would like to thank you from the bottom of our roots for helping us grow into a successful, family-owned, local, independent, garden center. We are honored to be a part of a community that supports local business. This year we have many exciting projects and changes in the works. We've updated our logo and are making upgrades to our greenhouse with a whole new look for spring 2017. Stay tuned for more exciting changes celebrating our 25th anniversary - growing with you since 1992!

Landscaping

Landscaping

Denny McKeown Landscape is a full service landscaping company focused on providing expert knowledge and proper plant installation. Staffed with professionally trained landscape installers who have been with our company for many years, our crews know the proper way to install and care for your landscape. Offering small to large-scale landscape installations and renovations, we are equipped to take on your next project. Once the job is complete, we can provide on-going maintenance services and education to help your landscape investment be successful for years to come.

learn more here
  • I wanted to take a minute to tell you how wonderful our installation looks. We can’t thank you enough for your terrific design. The crew that did the work was just great – it was like Christmas everyday coming home from work to see what new things were in or were done.

  • Denny – I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with your services. Woody’s design and selections have far exceeded our expectations. If is a pure delight to go out onto our lower patio, our deck or our screened in porch and just relax and commune with nature.

  • Dear Woody,
    Just a line to tell you how much I appreciate the beautiful work you have done landscaping our yard. The design was perfect – the plants, shrubs, stepping stones and even the sod was planted with meticulous care. I appreciate your good work. Thank you .. very much

  • Dear Denny,
    Bottom Line: It certainly does pay to do business with a fine professional firm such as yours!
    Thanks to you and your organization and special thanks to Woody as well.

  • The patio landscaping is so wonderful. Everyone I have met or talked with in your organization have been as helpful and so careful with the surrounding property. Thank you. A hugh thank you to you form the designs because you captured what I like to look at and take care of. Thanks again

  • Dear Woody,
    We wanted to let you know how absolutely pleased we are with our beautiful new landscaping.
    Last night as we sat outside Vito said “This isn’t just the prettiest backyard I’ve ever had, it’s the prettiest back yard I’ve ever seen.” Thank you so much. We just couldn’t be happier.

  • Dear Mr. McKeown,
    Thank you, not only for your excellent work in relation to this specific undertaking, but for all the help Bloomin’ Garden has provided us with over the years.

  • Dear Woody: The landscaping at my home looks beautiful! You were right, the bed is a great look. I am in love with all of it! Thank you so much. Just love everything about it!

  • Hi Woody – We love the design, and I can’t say enough about the professionalism and high quality work of your landscape crew. Every detail is meticulously handled from the edging to moving boulders to the judicious use of pine straw (under budget!).

  • Woody, The knowledge and professionalism of you and your team are your greatest assets. Your help from the planning stage to your on-site supervision of our of our current effort made the job go as planned. And the work crew did an excellent job. We look forward to working with you again. Express our appreciation to your entire team, especially Steve and Steve. Thanks for the great job

  • Dear Woody, Thank you so much! We absolutely love our new look! I drive up to my home after a difficult day and feel a sense of order, peace, and contentment. Working with you was one of the best experiences we have ever had! Perry and I remark about how professional, attentive, responsive, and accessible you have been and that my friend, speaks volumes about you, the company and our satisfaction!

  • Woody: hi! We are at the end of another gardening season and I am taking this opportunity to thank you for creating my beautiful landscape. My backyard-screened porch is my favorite place to hang out in the summer, a vacation without leaving the house! Thank you again! Enjoy your down time (is there really such a thing?) and see you in the Spring! Take care

  • Matt and I are so thrilled with our new plants and landscape design. We are so happy with your work and appreciate all of your effort put into this project. The landscape crew did a wonderful job with the installation. Thank you for taking the time explaining all of the different variety of plants and the detailed plant care instructions. You are truly an asset to Denny McKeown’s landscape design team. Thank you

  • Dear Woody,
    I just wanted to thank you and your crew for the beautiful job on our yard! The yard has never looked better than it does now! Thank you for listening and making our home look the best it can be! I’ll always recommend you and Bloomin’ Garden!

  • Hi Woody, Your crew was here Sat. and as always did a great job! They are so friendly and answer my questions-pleasure to work with them!

  • Hi Woody, You and your guys did an excellent job on the yard. Please let them know how pleased I am with their work, Thank you!

  • Dear Mr. McKeown,
    Greg and his crew were very professional, efficient and thorough as well as outgoing and friendly.
    We wanted you to know how pleased we are with the results of their work. Our “Thanks” to Greg and his crew for a job Well Done You are so lucky to have such good and dedicated men. Again – our thanks to all

  • My word! We could not be happier. Your guys were amazing and we feel like this was the best money we have spent. Thank YOU. We will spread the word about how awesome you guys were every chance we get.

  • Hi Greg the front yard looks awesome! Thank you so much for your help! You transformed the entire look of the house. We love it! Thanks

  • just wanted to let you know that Mike and Steve did an AMAZING job today and grounds look AWESOME!! I can’t put into words how pleased I am with the results – worth every penny!

  • Dear Woody, I thought you might enjoy seeing how nicely your plantings are developing. Thanks again very much for improving the appearance of our house through your artistic choices.

  • It was a pleasure to work with everyone at Denny McKeown’s. You, the person I spoke to in the office, the young man who assisted me at the store and the gentleman who called to let me know tha the workers were at my house have been very courteous. I have referred Denny McKeown to two co-workers.

  • Woody, The yard looks fantastic!
    I again want to thank you for your ideas, installation and replacing the bushes without hesitation. You can be proud!

  • Hi Greg! Just wanted to write and say THANK YOU! We have been very happy with our decision to have Denny McKeown do our landscaping and appreciate your help and willingness to replace plants that don’t seem to do well. THANKS

  • Hi Greg, Would like to absolutely echo Kelly – your help with the planning and the hands-on help yesterday were very much appreciated by everyone and the key factor in getting this project successfully done yesterday. Thank you very much!!

  • Thank you. Everything looked wonderful when we got home last night. This is the best our beds have looked in September than ever before!

  • Woody, Your guys did a fantastic job. Please let them know I appreciate it. It has been great working with you and your folks this year again. You provide an awesome service. Thanks for all you have done for us.

  • I recommend that you work with the professionals at Blooming’ Gardens. Woody listened to our needs & wants and examined the unique characteristics of our yard. His design was creative, functional and used plant selections that created a yard we thoroughly enjoy.

  • Based on what we have seen, we are eager & excited to get the rest of the landscape beds planted and installed in 2015. It will really add beauty and value to our home.

  • I just wanted you to know how pleased I am with the new landscaping which was installed yesterday.  Woody did an outstanding job in the design and layout, and the guys who did the planting were super nice and accommodating!  My yard could serve as the poster child for a gorgeous transformation.  Great job.