Have you ever kicked a mushroom in your lawn, as an adult 🙂 ? Why? Is it because when you were a kid you were told mushrooms were poisonous and would kill you so you decided to personally rid the world (or at least your yard) of the evil mushroom before it lulls you into eating it so it could deal its mortal blow? Or, maybe it was/is just fun!
Well, read on and you might change your mind.
Mushrooms and mycorrhizae are actually really good for your soil and plants. Yes they can break down dying trees in your landscape, but if a mushroom can get to a tree, the tree was on its way out anyway. Some mushrooms are there to help plants live happier, healthier lives. In the image below, you can see mycorrhizae (myco – fungus, rhizae – rhiosospere or root zone), that have inserted themselves into the ends of the pine saplings roots. The tree exudes sugars and chemicals that tell the mycorrhizae to “go forth and collect nutrients” that will specifically aid the tree in its growth. If this relationship didn’t exist, the tree would only have access to the nutrients its own roots could gather (you can see a color change in this photo where the tree roots are further away from the root zone, the mycorrhizae have extended outward.) As the needs of the tree changes, the sugars it exudes and the nutrients the fungus brings to it will change also. The mushroom gets the sugars, the tree grows better.
Actually, there are lots of mushrooms types. Such as Amanita. This one is highly toxic. But it is soooo beautiful! If you don’t have to remove it (dogs and infants could be a problem) then don’t.
I have children and I know how nerve racking it can be to let the little ones out in to the big scary world, I also understand how fast they can move and how they are drawn to colors. If you kicked this mushroom, we wouldn’t blame you, but perhaps you could consider this an opportunity for a lesson. Fascinate your children by teaching them how to make spore prints, or borrow a mushroom guidebook from the library, or go mushroom hunting. We have mushrooms growing here almost year round, it is the middle of January as I write this and I just went on a hunt two weeks ago. These types of mushroom expeditions are a free chance to teach your children (and you!) how to look but not taste.
~Walker Leiser, Certified Permaculture Designer
Sustainable Landscape Consultant