Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rainy Day Mushrooms

Edible Shitake mushrooms grow on oak log
Did you know? Not all fungi is bad. Although many plant diseases are caused by pathogenic fungi, some soil fungi help to break down dead plant material into rich, black humus, making the nutrients available to plants. Often their white threadlike strands (hyphae = singular / mycelium = plural) can be found throughout the soil.  Other friendly fungi (mycorrhiza) attach to the roots of green plants and help them absorb more water and extra minerals and nutrients, in effect extending their root system. Humans eat edible mushrooms like portabellos and white button 'shrooms as a tasty and nutritious vegetable. Beneficial Penicillin is a form of fungus, while wine and cheese are created by the action of the yeast fungus.

Most fungi thrive in warm, moist conditions. After 30+ days of rain in metro-Atlanta, there are plenty of mushrooms popping up across the city in mulch, in shady areas, in lawns and even in paths and flower beds. Mushroom experts can tell which of these are edible, and which are deadly poisonous. Mushrooms are actually the "fruiting bodies" of various fungi and they eventually mature and send off dust-like mushroom spores as the way mushrooms reproduce (not seeds, but the same idea).

While mushrooms or toadstools appearing the lawn may be annoying, they usually do not harm turf. There is nothing to be applied to the soil to prevent them from emerging. Crabapple LandscapExperts just mow or rake them off and remove them as they appear.

Fairy Ring of Mushrooms in Lawn
A "fairy ring" of mushrooms in the lawn is created when spores land in on the grass and start to grow. They use up the nutrients at that spot and start to grow outward from the initial spot in a uniform way, searching for more nutrients and causing a ring. As they die, they return the nitrogen in their mushroom bodies to the soil, creating a ring of bright green grass just inside the ring of actual 'shrooms.

Digging Deeper
To learn more about mushrooms, try the Mushroom Club of Georgia, a knowledgeable group that meets for programs about mushrooms and to go on hikes to find and gather them. "Like" the Mushroom Club of Georgia on Facebook, here. 

Amazing post about little-known fungi capabilities here: The Power of Mushrooms to Save the Planet

No comments:

Post a Comment