Happy Fri-Yay! and welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our ‘anipal fur-iends,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Make sure you check out what others have shared by clicking on the highlighted link.
It’s been very hot in the 303 (the heat dome from the PNW has now moved eastward) but one day earlier this week a real gully washer of a rainstorm that moved quickly through the neighborhood was enjoyed. It cooled things off nicely for the evening, cleansed the air and hydrated all the parched trees and flowers nicely and I knew exactly what would sprout from it a couple of days later. Weeds…but that’s another story. What sprouted were mushrooms!
Most of the time we get the little dome topped ‘shrooms known as Coprinopsis atramentaria (common name, Alcohol Inky or Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane, both images below courtesy of Coloradomushrooms.com) but these guys caught my eye in a yard we walked past this morning where the rain had definitely helped the weeds.
So why did they spring up practically overnight? Mushrooms are fungi or at least the reproductive part of fungi, that live in the soil. Most of the time, fungi just stays hidden, working quietly as it breaks down organic material. But when conditions are right, they burst forth, like desert flowers blooming after a rain spreading spores into the air and disappear once the sun comes out or the soil dries up. And trust me, it’s been dry. And hot.
Mushrooms are a good thing for the garden though I know most people don’t appreciate them in their lawns. Most fungi that sprout up in the lawn is not toxic but just the same, it is still probably best to not let your pet to nosh on any. Since Norman and Elsa only encounter mushrooms while on their walks, I feel confident they won’t, considering there are far more interesting things that will capture their interest (like the bunnies that have been seen a few times this week and of course, tree rats). They’d always prefer a moving target over any weird looking mushroom to check out.
Fungi decompose lignin based organic matter which is found in woody material like tree roots, stumps, tree leaves, or decaying mulch, twigs, etc.
The benefit of having a fungi rich soil is they help break down the harder to digest tree leaves or stems that can often build up in a thatch layer in the grass. Fungi produce a strong enzyme that is able to break down woody material which is why you’ll find mushrooms near decaying organic matter such as stumps.
While I’m certainly no mycophile, I’ve always wondered why I’d see mushrooms under a drip line or near a tree stump.
The beauty of fungi is that they help plants survive conditions of stress; i.e. low fertility, drought, temperature extremes, and root pathogens. Ain’t Nature grand in the overall scheme of things?
So the bottom line is when you see mushrooms in your lawn/garden, it’s more than likely a very good thing while breaking down organic material. Do you have ‘shrooms in your garden or just in your dinner salad or on top of a slice of pizza?