Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mulch Ado about Fungi

I was sitting here this morning, looking at one or two Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts, when I noted one of my friends was blogging about a slightly less photogenic bloom happening in his garden beds.

Johnny from Bearded Weirdo was reporting the recurrence of not only slime mold but other (so far) unidentified fungi appearing in his garden bed. I was commenting on his post when I recalled I'd had the same stuff growing in a pot earlier this year. Had the rain triggered a regrowth?

As I turned away from my computer and looked out the back windows, my eyes were caught by a couple of flashes of unexpected yellow in one of the beds by the waterfall. "So what? It's October", you might be thinking, "those are fallen leaves".

1) This is Central Texas and we don't so much have fallen leaves in October and B) this bed is underneath nothing but palm trees.

I grabbed my camera and went to take a closer look. If April showers bring May flowers then October rains must bring mushrooms. I don't know for sure what these are, but they are certainly adding an interesting splash of fall colornested in amongst the gynura aurantiaca, otherwise known as a Purple Velvet Plant.

I headed over to the pots holding our Meyer Lemon trees and it was clear from pretty far away we'd had more fungal activity in there as well.The slime mold noted earlier, fuligo septica, seems to have been replaced by a paler more standardly formed mushroom. This may be related to the plasmodium or it may be independent. Either way, it does not seem to be harming the plant and multiple sites advise there is no way to rid an area of fungi or mold either one, so enjoying it's odd appearance seems in order.While trying to identify my shrooms (have we talked about how I suck at identifying things?) I did note on one very helpful page that the probable culprit here, lecocoprinus birnbaumii, starts out a bright yellow that fades as the cap expands to release its spores. I think that is what I have going on in the Meyer Lemon. The cap up in the soil of the planter is larger, paler than the ones by the waterfall, and it has probably, ahem!, "released its spores".That may explain the smaller more intensely yellow additions to the outside bottom edge of the pot. I'm not sure but I think I caught a glimpse of the larger cap later, smoking a cigarette and promising the smaller specimens down below, "I'll call you tomorrow".

Anyway, I am enjoying how bizarre and unusual they are and relaxing into accepting their presence as nonthreatening indicators the soil in both areas is "organically rich". I still don't know what the teensy dark mushroom is,but I am fairly certain this is simply an outgrowth of the common use of native hardwood mulches in and around our beds for years. None of this seems to concern the Meyer Lemon, which has recently bloomed.In my younger camping days, I was always advised to hunt for mushrooms sprouting on decomposing wood. It ought not be any shock to have the same thing happening on hardwood mulch. Rotting wood is rotting wood. With our cooler then warmer then wet conditions here, it is simply natural to have a different sort of bloom happening like these happy little mushrooms that have been growing for nearly a year now on this oak stump out front.One last note. Folks in the Bahamas reportedly call the yellow mushrooms Spirit Umbrellas.Besides being easier to remember (and spell) that is so much a cozier name, don't you agree?

So - go out today and take a look around. Anything fun and unusual sprouting in your yard?

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.