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Mushrooms in the Lawn

Toadstools are poisonous mushrooms. The only problem is that some mushrooms which are tasty and delicious to one person may be poisonous to another person. And according to Louise Friedman, a leading mycologist on the Peninsula, never eat raw mushrooms. Be sure they have at least been sautéed in some olive oil.

If there are mushrooms or toadstools growing in your lawn, leave them alone. They may or may not be fit for human consumption. Until you know for sure, assume they are inedible. The mushroom that you see pop up in the grass on your lawn is the equivalent of the apple on a tree. The main body of the mushroom consists of a mass of white fungus threads feeding on decaying vegetation in the soil. About once a year, the fungus sprouts what we call the mushroom. If you pick the mushroom, the fungus is still there in the soil. Similarly, if you pick the apple from the tree, the tree is still there.

Mushrooms may appear in the lawn for two or three years and then they seem to disappear. The fungus remains in the soil continuing the decay process until it has used up all of the particular nutrients which it requires.

The mushroom cap’s function is to produce spores (reproductive parts) which are scattered by the wind and they may or may not sprout. You can break off the mushrooms and discard them when they spoil the lawn’s appearance or to keep them out of the hands of children.

Aside from this, the fungi are decomposers and help to break down dead organic matter and put it back into the food chain. In most cases, these fungi are harmless to living plants or animals. Some fungi such as the Oak Root Fungus are parasitic and can kill growing plants. However, these parasites do not appear as mushrooms in the lawn.

Last update: 07/16/2022

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Wegman’s Nursery
492 Woodside Rd., Redwood City, CA 94061
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