Mushrooms, fungi and slime molds that grow in mulch or potted plants.

---Tom Volk, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse,

Dictyophora duplicataAlmost all of the email requests for identification I get are from people who want to know what's growing in their mulch and how to get rid of it. Scroll down below to read about what's likely to be growing there. The short answer is that there's no way to get rid of it without paving over your yard. Moreover, you should be glad to have something unusual growing in your garden that you can show your family and friends. Some people spend a lot of money to get that one unusual plant, but when a beautiful or unusual fungus shows up they're ready to kill it. What's the point of that? You should learn to enjoy nature, especially when it presents itself to you in your own yard.

Q. Dear Sir,

I was fascinated to read a bit of your page but am really interested in finding out if there is any way to stop or rid ones plant beds of the many types of unwanted fungi that appear with startling rapidity. And as a separate issue the control of 'artillery fungus' is important in our area. I have had some limited success using lime sulfur solution but would welcome any other suggestions.

Thank you for your response.

A. Hi. There's no way yet to get rid of the artillery fungus or any other fungus in your mulch-- except to remove all the mulch-- and that might not even do it. Sorry I can't be of more help.

Dog Vomit Slime mold

Fuligo septica Q. Dear Professor,

Recently, I located some species of mushroom or fungus in the mulch at my place of employment. I took a couple of pictures to send out in hopes of making an identification. In visiting your website, I wasn't able to locate a match, so I thought that I would send you a picture and see if you know what it is.

I appreciate any help you can give me on this matter.

A. Hi. You've got the dog vomit slime mold. see my page at:

Hope this helps.

Q. Hi I am searching for information on a fungus that is growing in some mulch I placed around my children's play area earlier this summer/Spring. I live in Steuben County New York and am very concerned that this may be harmful to my children. I did take a sample to our local Cornell Cooperative extension but they provided no complete answer for me. This fungus I have only seen in the mulch around the play area. I used the same mulch in my garden but placed weed block below it which I did not do in the play area. I forms overnight and last night a dinner plate size fungus appeared where during the day there was no visible sign of any thing. It starts out a very light yellow (similar to the head on pint of Guinness ) and below this has a liquid or tar like substance. As time goes on the tar like substance hardens the yellow coloring fades to a lighter whiter color and then turns like a burnt orange clay like color not bright almost blending with the natural mulch. One specimen had black drops on top that were very fluid like it was the same color as the tar like substance below the yellow coloring but not as gel like as that substance. The tar like substance underneath becomes almost like a dust when left for several days (maybe a week). I am very concerned that this is not healthy for my children ages 3 and 4 and would like to know if it is poisonous and what I can do to eliminate it. You input would be greatly appreciated as their mother I am very concerned. Thank you

A. Hi. You have the dog vomit slime mold, which is not known to be harmful. See my page at: Hope this helps.

Hi You've got the dog vomit slime mold. See my page at:

At 08:24 PM 6/28/00 -0400, you wrote:
>>>If you hose the stuff away it clearly spreads the spores. Does this mean that the stuff will be even more wide spread in my mulch in the future?

yes. You're providing it with just what it needs-- water.

>Is there anything that I can apply to my mulch to prevent the formation of this noxious mess. >Benomyl? >Powdered kryptonite? >A small nuclear device?

There's nothing you can do to get rid of it short of getting rid of all the mulch and that might not even do it.

I recommend you find some way to enjoy it. It's a very cool organism. Show any one who complains about it my web page on it at

Hope this helps.

Mutinus elegans, the dog stinkhornMutinus caninus, the dog stinkhorn

Dear Tom

I'm sure you probably get many requests like mine, so perhaps you have a email on file that you can shoot out to me without taking a lot of your time. I live in Ridgetown, a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

I have replaced my lawn with wood chips and shrubs and have found, that instead of a low maintanance garden, I have quite the opposite. Each day now starts with thirty or forty minutes on "stinkhorn patrol". We have a very nice crop of "Mutinus elegans."

As a biologists I am sure that you find stinkhorns very interesting and even perhaps .... attractive (??). Unfortunately, I do not share your enthusiasm. Given free reign, these fungi would completely overrun my property and the aroma around my home would be unbearable. We were away on vacation for two weeks last year, and I had many hours of work getting these little devils under control, especially among the Boston ivy which I use as a ground cover for a good deal of my garden.

Is there any way these "interesting fungi" can be eradicated from my garden? Please help if possible.


A. Hi. Unfortunately there's no way to eradicate them short of getting rid of all the mulch and even that might not even do it. a different kind of mulch next time might help. The easiest solution is to find a way to enjoy them. Sorry I can't be of more help. See

Clathrus columnatus Hello,

I found your name on the Web. I hope you don't mind but I need some help with a stinkhorn problem. My back yard is being over run by stinkhorns (the variety that looks like King Crab Legs). Every two week I collect and remove at least 50 to 100 of the egg stage, and still miss a good number that sprout the red stalk. They are now starting to migrate from the garden beds into the lawn areas.

I took examples of both the egg stage and the stalk stage to a few of my local garden centers and nobody knew what they were. I only learned that they were stinkhorn from your website. Further searches revealed much about stinkhorn, but I found little about how to control the problem in a back yard.

If it is not too much trouble, could you please provide your suggestions on how to proceed with this problem.

Thanks in advance, and best regards.

A. Hi . There's not much you can do to get rid of the stinkhorns. It actually sounds fun to me! You can replace all the mulch, but the spores will probably reinfect. Sorry this isn't the answer you want. See

Potted houseplants
Leucocoprinus with a potted plant

Tom: saw your web page and thought you might be a good person to ask about this. The other day I noticed that mushrooms have sprouted up in one of my houseplants. Very strange indeed because I haven't moved the plant and I have had it for over two years. Nothing new with its environment. My apartment is VERY dry, though I was keeping the plant periodically watered. (I hadn't watered in a week when the mushrooms turned up).

The mushrooms are a creamy yellowish with a sort of pointy top and rather large (the cap is about the circumference of a milk top) The stems are long and thin and white but sturdy. They sprang up in a clump of seven.

What do you think of this? Where did they come from? Why did they sprout up all of the sudden?

thanks for your thoughts.

A. Hi. You have Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, aka Lepiota lutea. It's common in houseplants and mulched areas. It's not known to be harmful to people or other animals. See

Q. Dear Tom,

Wow, what a site! It is extraordinary! I came across it while trying to figure out what the heck is growing out of my Ficus tree. I went through all of the fungi pictures, which were really great by the way, yet still didn t find the exact growth. The closest I found to it is the M. Semilibera pic. It has that shape but the top is totally smooth like the bottom and it is neon yellow. Can you help me? Do you know what it might be and how I can dismiss it from my tree? I ve only had it for 3 months and it has also come down with a bad case of scales which I am desperately trying to treat. Poor baby, my other plants are doing great and always have so I think it came in sick from the nursery or the additional potting soil from repotting.

Would appreciate any thoughts you have on this matter. Thank you so much,

A. Hi. You probably have Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, aka Lepiota lutea. It's very common in houseplants. They don't harm the plant and are not known to be poisonous to animals or people. I recommend you just enjoy them. See

Coming up-- other mushrooms in mulch. For now see this page on Agrocybe.

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