Help identify strange... mushrooms?!

spaghetina(SF Bay Area)March 28, 2012

I was out weeding earlier and came across these soccer-ball-looking things out in my yard. I assume they're some sort of mushroom, but all my searches have turned up nothing. They're about the size of large white button mushrooms, and have a leathery texture to the outside "skin", which, when peeled back, reveals a pinkish-orange brain-like interior. Creepy.

Anyone have any idea what they are, and what I should do with them, as they're currently growing in one of my 4'x4' raised beds, and all my beds are dedicated to growing veggies. If they're poisonous, can they go into the bin destined for the municipal compost facility?

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whgille(FL 9b)


Look at the images below and if that is what you have take them out of the garden asap, you can recognize them by the smell.


Here is a link that might be useful: stinkhorn mushroom

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:44PM
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Well, I for one will welcome our new Alien Overlords when they emerge from their pods. All hail the new leaders of Humanity!

LOL -- strange looking, aren't they. At least they aren't the kind that look like ... um ... well, let's just say "something you might see in the centerfold of 'Playgirl'."

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:49PM
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spaghetina(SF Bay Area)

Ah ha, Silvia, thank you!! I came across something that suggested it might be a stinkhorn, but none of the images I searched for turned up anything that looked like it. As it turns out, it is this:

latticed stinkhorn

I'm a little afraid to touch it, after hearing about how stinky it can potentially be, but will any great harm come to my garden if I leave it alone to do it's mushroom-y thing? I have to admit, I sort of want to see them turn into those crazy lattice works!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:10PM
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No, in fact, the opposite is true -- the fungi that feed on decaying organic matter are highly beneficial, since they help recycle nutrients and release them into the soil as they themselves decay. They are a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

I think people get bent out of shape about fungi because 1) they're afraid they're poisonous (which they may be IF you eat them, but they aren't going to shoot poison darts into your flesh!) and 2) they think they are plant pathogens -- the fungi that are pathogens of plants generally are microscopic or nearly so -- think verticillium or botrytis or powdery mildew.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:42PM
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whgille(FL 9b)


I can smell them to a mile! lol. I would use the surgical gloves and after cleaning the bed throw the gloves in the garbage. Take my word for it, you don't want to see them turn into lattice or any other shape...


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:43PM
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Just let them be. Your solanaceae, your alliums, your cucurbitae, your pulses, many of your greens, basically 90% of your veggies, use mychorrizal fungi. It could be the only species in there. They can easily double the effective root area, save you tons of water, and improve nutrient uptake. Removing fungi is up there with yearly P fertilization when it comes to working to damage the garden and the ecosystem.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with let them be. They are quite beneficial to the soil. Not only improve the soil tilth and nutrient levels, but add a great deal of calcium to the soil. Not everything in life that is good is also beautiful. :)


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:02PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Awesome! I would love to see some of those pop up here. They are so cool looking. We get stinkhorns here, but ours have the lovely nickname of dog (part of the male anatomy) mushrooms becaue well, that's what they look like. I never really got down next to one to smell it, but never noticed an odor from standing near one either. I always leave the mushrooms I find in my garden, I figure they are breaking down something that my plants will subsequently get to use. Thanks for sharing the neat pictures.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:21PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Promise that you will take some more photographs when these open up, which won't take long. Just leave them alone to develop. These will be spectacular.

glib, what you've said about mycorrhizal relationships is true (though stinkhorns are almsot always associated with hardwood trees), but removing the fruiting body does not take away the mycorrhizae. That part of the fungus organism is alive and well in the soil.

Spaghetina, stinkhorns (including your lattice species) are often brought in with hardwood mulch. I've also seen it appear on or near the stumps and dead roots of hardwoods that have been removed. Just doing some recycling.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:57PM
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when i was still treating lawns I could tell if there was one of theses anyplace on the property by the time my boot hit the drive way they it was fun to try and find em the mushies are fine they are the teeth of the soil though adding some choice edible spawn and you can get those benefits as well as stacking another crop or 3 if you look around you could prolly find better prices than in the link but fungi Perfecti has really good strains

Here is a link that might be useful: Fungi Perfecti's Outdoor Mushroom Patches

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I almost always found the stinkhorns under evergreen trees

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:40AM
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spaghetina(SF Bay Area)

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. I'll leave them be and patiently wait for them to become whatever strange configuration they're destined to morph into. The spores may have come in with my wood chip mulch, but that's been down for several years, and this is the first I've seen of them. If they don't smell too bad, I hope that they'll come back next year because they do seem awfully cool.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:31PM
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