If you have mushrooms popping up in your yard, your first reaction may be that you need to get rid of them. You might be worried that they’re poisonous, or you might consider them unsightly. Before you rally against the mushrooms in your yard, it’s extremely important to understand the ecological roles mushrooms play in our ecosystems. Once you have a science-informed understanding of the mushroom in your landscape. You can then make more sound, ecological and practical decisions related to their presence.
In this guide, we’ll talk about some of the common concerns people have about mushrooms in their yard. We will also discuss the crucial roles fungi play in our environment, the feasibility of removal, and some alternative perspectives to counteract anti-mushroom dogma.
Mushroom in Your Yard: Common Concerns
One common concern that you may have when you notice mushrooms in your yard is if they’re poisonous to your pets or children. You may be, totally understandably, worried that your small kiddos or pets may ingest a toxic mushroom. This is a reasonable concern and there are a few poisonous mushrooms that do grow in grassy, yard-like habitats. The best response to this concern, however, is not to just assume the mushrooms are poisonous and try to eradicate them. Of course, don’t just assume they’re edible and chow down on them either! Instead, try to confirm the identity of the mushroom. If you are not skilled in mushroom ID, you can contact a local mycological society or mycologist to identify the mushrooms. Or, you can send them off to a lab for ID. There are even some forums and groups online where you can get help with identification, but not everyone online is as skilled as a well known mycologists.
Of the estimated 40-55,000 mushroom-producing fungi species worldwide, over 10,000 are currently identified by mycologists. About 2-3% of these known species are poisonous. Of these poisonous species, a smaller percentage grow in yard-like habitats. Still, some deadly toxic species do fruit in yards, such as the eastern destroying angel (Amanita bisporigera).
If You Have Confirmed a Toxic Species
If you have confirmed the presence of truly poisonous species such as destroying angel amanitas in your yard, then you may wonder what your steps are. Well, if you don’t have young kiddos or pets to worry about ingesting them, you could simply leave them be. If you don’t have concerns about accidental ingestion, leaving these mushrooms in your yard is likely the best option.
If you worry about kids or pets ingesting them, then you can pluck and dispose of the mushrooms as you see them. Trying to completely eradicate them, prevent them from fruiting each year, or tear up their underground mycelial network will largely prove to be a fruitless (and likely harmful to your yard) endeavor.
Concerns About Yard Appearance
Some people may find mushrooms to be unsightly and want to rid their yard of them for appearance purposes. If you feel this way, a perspective change on fungi might help change your feelings. Fungi are a crucial part of our ecosystem. So crucial, in fact, that life as we know it would not exist without them. They are essential decomposers, carbon sequesters, nutrient recyclers, and vital nutrient providers to plants.
If we shake off some of the fungi-phobia that is especially present in Western cultures, we can also start to appreciate the visual beauty of mushrooms. Rather than seeing them as an eye sore, the next time you gaze upon the mushrooms, notice their details. What colors, textures, and shapes do the mushrooms bring to your yard? If you look at them from this lens, you might find that they bring quite a wonderful and whimsical beauty to your landscape. We also have an article on this subject that specifically discusses how to get rid of stink horn mushrooms that you may find interesting.
Mushrooms in Your Yard: Crucial Roles
The mushrooms in your yard play vital roles in the health of our ecosystem. And yes, even species poisonous to pets or humans. For example, Amanita bisporigera, like the vast majority of amanitas, is a mycorrhizal fungus. This means it forms a beneficial plant-fungi nutrient exchange with host plants in your yard. Essentially, the presence of these mushrooms enhances the health of your yard’s ecosystem. This is another reason to let mushrooms remain in your yard if you aren’t worried about pets or kiddos.
Decomposer mushrooms also enhance the health of your yard. The common puffball mushroom (Lycoperdon perlatum) is a saprobic mushroom that often grows in grassy environments like yards. As a saprobic fungus, the common puffball mushroom derives nutrients from breaking down dead organic matter. In the case of (the edible when young) Lycoperdon perlatum, this matter includes grass thatch and leaf litter. Saprobic mushrooms are crucial to returning essential nutrients into the soil and carbon sequestration. If you have saprobic mushrooms growing in your yard, rest assured that they’re beneficial to the health of your soil!
Essentially, our stance is that the best way to treat mushrooms in your yard is from an ecological and informed, species ID confirmed safety perspective. If you want to gain skills in identifying the mushrooms in your yard or region, we recommend a few options. This includes joining a local mushroom club, reading sources from established mycologists, and connecting in person with a mushroom expert.
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