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Landscape mulch usually consists of hardwood shreds or bark chips, providing cover to hold moisture and add a finished look. Wood in mulch also provides a food source for fungi that are natural decomposers, breaking down plant material and utilizing organic matter. Without fungi, dead leaves, twigs and branches would clutter forests and landscapes. We see fungal fruiting bodies after growth of threadlike mycelium in soil and mulch. The most recognizable of these spore producing bodies are mushrooms, but sometimes they produce other structures, such as slime molds, stink horns, bird's nest fungi, and artillery fungus.

Most of these are harmless, providing decay of excess organic matter. Addition of fresh mulch yearly and raking to break up surface growth can prevent these fungi from sporulating. Artillery fungus can leave unsightly spots from spores deposited on siding, walls and cars.  Use of pine bark or nuggets rather than hardwood reduces growth of artillery fungus.

NFG 4/2019

There have been reports in the news recently regarding the use of mushrooms for healthamanita-mushroom and wellness. Mushrooms and specific fungal strains have long been known to have medicinal or nutraceutical properties. Consumption of fruiting bodies, powders made from fruiting bodies or mycelium, and tea extractions made from fungal material,  are cited in scientific literature as well as home wellness publications.  Here is a link to one of the latest news reports:
People who use mushrooms for medical issues should be cautious, especially when dealing with mushrooms collected in the wild. The identification of mushrooms and other fungal fruiting bodies is an exact science, dependent on many characters, including microscopic characters. There is a tremendous amount of variation in fungi, due to environmental conditions and genetics. Many fungi produce secondary metabolites that can be toxic in very small amounts (such as 1 mg). The effects of mushroom toxins can be cumulative over time, with repeated exposure or consumption. People also vary in their sensitivity to mushrooms and metabolites.
Care should be taken and an accurate identification by a professional should be obtained before consuming any wild mushrooms or wild mushroom products. Caution is best, to avoid mushroom poisoning by eating something collected in the wild and not properly identified. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office or Agricultural University for assistance.
NFG 12/2/2016

CHICKEN OF THE WOODS or the sulphur shelf fungus (Laetiporus Laetiporus sulphureus Newark DE 2016sulphureus) has been seen at the base of trees with large bright yellow and orange overlapping fruiting structures. These fungi are some of the most colorful and identifiable fungi found on living or dead trees. Chicken of the woods is a choice edible, but must be positively identified by an expert. It is one of many fungal species that attack the heartwood of trees, and produce fruiting bodies on the trunk. Laetiporus is common in oak trees, as many of these Basidiomycetes are found in association with certain trees. If one tree has heart rot, it doesn't mean that nearby trees will get it, even if they are of the same species. The fungus must enter through a wound in order to become established, and the fungus will slowly decompose the heartwood, the dead wood or center of the tree. By the time a fruiting body is produced on the trunk of a living tree, it usually means that the fungus has been there for years. At this point there is no control but to keep tree stress low. Rotting of the interior wood can weaken the tree, leading to breakage, insect damage, and other diseases. An arborist may be able to prune to save the tree.
NFG 8/21/16