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Gardening: Mushroom Image

Mushrooms can appear in lawns virtually overnight during periods on extended rainfall. Some types of mushrooms grow in a distinctive circular-to-elliptical pattern known as a fairy ring. While such lawns can look like clusters of spaceships from Mars have taken up residence, mushrooms generally are not harmful to lawn growth.

Photo Credit: Dr. William M. Johnson

Prolonged rainfall leads to invasion of the mushrooms

By Dr. William M. Johnson, Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

July 26, 2007

Q: I’ve noticed that growths of large, white mushrooms can quickly appear in lawns all over my neighborhood. Where do the mushrooms come from and is there anything to control them? Would they be edible?

A: I will address the edible issue first as I am aware of a recent medical emergency concerning a child that had consumed some wild mushrooms. While most mushroom cases involve gastrointestinal irritants poisoning, certain species of mushrooms can be lethal when ingested.

he abundance of mushrooms in many area lawns provides a greater opportunity for small children to come in contact with them. Remove mushrooms as they appear to reduce the temptation they can offer to children.

Although most mushrooms are not poisonous, you must never take chances on eating wild mushrooms, including those found in lawns. In order to determine if they are edible, you must have them properly identified and there are few individuals who are qualified to do so. Leave the wild mushroom hunting up to the experts. Mushrooms purchased at the store are the only ones that should be considered safe to eat.

Mushroom biology is somewhat complex. They belong to a group of organisms called fungi. Mushrooms are the reproductive portion of the fungi and the vegetative portion (known as hyphae) grows belowground. Since mushrooms lack chlorophyll that is found in green plants, they must derive their food from decaying plants or plant parts. In home lawns, they will grow on decaying underground roots, bark, and other organic matter found beneath the soil. They are often found in areas that had trees removed some years back.

Some types of mushrooms grow in a distinctive circular-to-elliptical pattern known as a "fairy ring." Other types of mushrooms commonly seen in area lawns occur in a random pattern and are close relatives of "fairy ring" mushrooms.

Yes, mushrooms can certainly appear rather quickly. When we have periods of high rainfall and warm temperatures, a few to several dozen mushrooms can appear virtually overnight in a home lawn.

However, save your money—there is nothing you can do to prevent this. Frequent mowing will do more good than anything else.

Q: The limbs on our young crapemyrtle tree touch the ground after a rain. Is it safe to prune them now?

A: The weight of flower heads that contain seed pods will cause the limbs to droop, especially when wet. You can safely remove flower heads that have seeded. This practice is known as deadheading which promotes development of additional flowers. You can do this throughout the growing season. You can also remove any lower limbs that make it difficult to mow around.

However, I caution owners of large trees not to do any major pruning at this time of the year. Heavy pruning on crapemyrtles in late summer and fall can cause winter injury to tender new growth. Postpone major pruning to provide size control until February and March of next year.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at

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