Question of the Week Number 1: May 24, 2018

“What is this growing on top of the ground, and does it present any threat to my plants?”

There have been times when folks have posted photos of these things one after another on my Facebook page – three or four in one day. They kinda look like the dog got sick, but they’re actually saprophytic funguses.

It seems like this type of saprophytic fungus most commonly develops on coarse bark chip mulches.

When I use that term “saprophytic” people usually gasp. Then I quickly calm them by telling them that saprophytic funguses feed off decaying organic matter. That’s as compared to parasitic funguses that gain their sustenance from living plants.

Continued Below


There actually are hundreds, probably thousands of types of saprophytic funguses. Mushrooms and toadstools fall into that category, too. And the one common thread through them all is that they do no harm to your plants. They may be unsightly, but unless they grow over and “swallow” your plants, they co-exist with your landscape and garden plants without issue.

These things are really ugly. But luckily, “ugly” doesn’t translate into “harmful.”

If they’re too unsightly for you to bear, get a shaker can of dusting sulfur and powder them up. They’ll be gone fairly quickly. Keep the sulfur out of your eyes and off your plants as best you can.

When an old tree was removed, saprophytic mushrooms sprung up from its decaying stump.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top