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Mushroom Questions Answered
Mushrooms can be associated with trees, lawn, mulch, and even house plants. Mushrooms are macroscopic fruiting bodies of certain fungi. Fungi develop a microscopic network of structures underground (Hyphae, Mycelia), associated with trees and other plants, and often embedded in the substrate (soil, living or dead wood, etc.) and extracting nutrients from it.
Mushrooms and fungi, in general, are one of the many nature's recyclers. Fungal fruiting bodies form when favorable environmental conditions, such as humidity and temperature, and spores develop within the mushroom.
Concern about mushrooms in yard
It is common for mushrooms to emerge in lawns. They cause little to no damage to lawns or gardens so you don't have to do anything. If you are worried about their appearance or a pet or child accidentally eating them, mow or rake and remove them. Learn more in this article: How do I get rid of mushrooms in my yard or garden bed?
The networks of fungal mycelia develop in circles, and therefore in some instances, you can see mushrooms growing in large rings. For example, see Fairy Rings in Lawns.
What to do about mushrooms, concern about toxicity?
Mushrooms may also develop in tree stumps. Once established in the lawn, tree, or tree stump, no cure or treatment is available. There is no treatment to eradicate them. You can pick or rake them and place them in the trash. The ISU Extension and Outreach do not advise on edibility.
Mushrooms associated with trees
Some mushrooms may be associated with living or declining trees and may have the appearance of brackets or conks. Some of them can cause wood decay, heartwood rots of trees, root and butt rot, in healthy or injured trees with cracks.
In some instances, the tree can become a fall risk or hazard to people, structures etc. Having this tree evaluated by a trained arborist to determine it still maintains its structural integrity will be important. For information see the publication on how to choose an arborist and search in the ISA certified arborist site for a certified arborists in IA.
Safe Mushroom Foraging Resources
Foraging and consumer awareness are essential, and there are always risks associated with consuming wild mushrooms. Classes for anyone interested in being certified to sell wild-harvested mushrooms within the state of Iowa see Wild-harvested Mushrooms Certification.
Participants in this virtual workshop offered in 2020 were introduced to proper identification traits, foraging safety, distinguishing between edible and non-edible varieties, and best harvesting practices, including avoiding any potential post-harvest contamination.
If you want to learn more about mushrooms common in IA, including a calendar of historical occurrence, role in nature, and known toxicity, see the following resources:
- Safe Mushroom Foraging Field Guide https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/1583
- Interactive mushroom calendar visit the Mushroom Foraging in Iowa page
- Webinar Recordings
- Wild Mushrooms Certification – Required to legally sell wild-harvested mushrooms within the state of Iowa
By Lina Rodriguez Salamanca, Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, updated 10/13/2021
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