fungi types

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Common name: artillery fungus, cannon fungus, shotgun
Once in place, the spore mass is very difficult to
Prepared by Elizabeth A. Brantley and
remove without damaging the surface to which it is
Donald D. Davis, Department of Plant Pathology; and
attached. If removed, it leaves a stain. A few of these
Larry J. Kuhns, Department of Horticulture.
Is Growing in
Scientific name: species of Sphaerobolus
spots are barely noticeable, but as they accumulate,
they may become very unsightly on houses or cars.
What do artillery fungi look like?
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research, extension, and
My Landscape
resident education programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania
They resemble a tiny cream or orange-brown cup with
What should be done?
counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S.
one black egg. The cup is approximately 1/10 of an
To date, there are no known controls for this fungus.
Department of Agriculture.
inch in diameter. Areas of mulch with artillery fungi
With support from the Pennsylvania Department of
may appear matted and lighter in color than the
Agriculture and private mulch producers, Penn State
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work, Acts of
researchers are studying the problem. They hope to
Congress May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S.
surrounding mulch.
Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Legislature. T. R.
find a wood or bark mulch on which the artillery
Alter, Director of Cooperative Extension, The Pennsylvania State
Are they a problem?
fungus will not sporulate.
They may be a problem. The fruiting body of this
One solution to the artillery fungus problem that
fungus orients itself towards bright surfaces, such as
is not horticulturally sound is to replace wood-based
This publication is available in alternative media on request.
light-colored houses or parked automobiles. The
mulch with other types of mulch, such as black plastic
The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that
Slime molds
artillery fungus “shoots” its black, sticky spore mass,
or stone, in critical areas adjacent to homes and
all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admis-
which can be windblown as high as the second story of
parking areas.
sion, and employment without regard to personal characteristics
a house. The spore mass sticks to the side of a building
not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined
or automobile, resembling a small speck of tar. You
by University policy or by state or federal authorities. The
Bird’s nest fungus
Pennsylvania State University does not discriminate against any
may also find them on the undersides of leaves on
person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap,
plants growing in mulched areas.
national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, or
veteran status. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination
Artillery fungus
policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State
University, 201 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802-2801:
Tel. (814) 865-4700/V, (814) 863-1150/TTY.
© The Pennsylvania State University 1997
U.Ed. AGR97-27
Fruiting bodies of the artillery
Artillery fungus spore masses
Artillery fungus growing on mulch.
on vinyl siding.
College of Agricultural Sciences
Agricultural Research and
Cooperative Extension

andscape mulches are used to protect soil,
conserve moisture, moderate soil tempera-
Lture, and limit weed growth, as well as
beautify and unify landscape plantings. Most
Common names: mushrooms, toadstools
Common names: slime molds, “dog vomit” fungus
Common name: bird’s nest fungus
mulches are mixtures of shredded wood and bark
Scientific names: Many different fungi produce
Scientific names: species of Physarum, Fuligo, and
Scientific names: species of Crucibulum and Cyathus
residues from lumber and paper mills,
What do bird’s nest fungi look like?
arboricultural and land-clearing operations, and
What do mushrooms look like?
What do slime molds look like?
They resemble tiny grey to brown bird’s nests or splash
wooden pallet disposal or recycling facilities.
They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes ranging
They start as brightly colored (yellow, orange, etc.)
cups with eggs. The nest is up to 1/4 inch in diameter.
Like other organic matter, wood and bark
from less than an inch to several inches tall. Some are
slimy masses that are several inches to more than a foot
soft and fleshy and disappear soon after they emerge;
across. They produce many tiny, dark spores. These
Are they a problem?
decompose over time. The primary organisms
others may remain in mulch for a few days, weeks, or
molds dry out and turn brown, eventually appearing as
These fungi may grow in large areas of mulch, but they
involved with their decomposition are bacteria and
an entire growing season.
a white, dry powdery mass.
are not a problem. The “eggs” are masses of spores that
splash out of the nest when hit by a raindrop. These
fungi, which derive their energy for growth from
Are they a problem?
Are they a problem?
spores occasionally stick to surfaces, as do the spores
the carbon-based compounds found in wood and
They may be poisonous if eaten.
No. These fungi are “feeding” on bacteria growing in
of the artillery fungus, but they are easily removed and
the mulch. They are normally a temporary nuisance
do not leave a stain.
bark. These compounds include cellulose, lignin,
What should be done?
confined to small areas.
and simple sugars. Bacteria are microscopic
Appreciate their beauty; ignore them; or remove them.
What should be done?
organisms that are not visible in the mulch. Fungi
What should be done?
These naturally occurring fungi decompose organic
The fungi may be left in place to decompose. If their
matter and do not need to be removed. They are
also may be microscopic, but many develop visible
appearance is offensive, discard the fruiting bodies in a
interesting to look at—show them to children!
reproductive structures.
compost pile, household garbage, or a spot in the yard
away from existing mulch.
The fungi involved in the decomposition of
landscape mulches are natural components of the
mulch environment. Some fungi, such as the
artillery fungus, are “recyclers” and break down
woody tissue directly. Other fungi, such as slime
molds, consume bacteria and other organisms
living in the mulch. These fungi are not harmful to
landscape plants, and no known health hazards are
associated with them unless they are eaten. They
can be found from April through October, usually
following rainy weather.
This brochure describes four common types
of fungi growing in landscape mulches in the
eastern United States—mushrooms, slime molds,
Many different species of fungi
This fungus is called a stink-horn.
A fresh, brightly colored
An old white, dry powdery slime
Bird’s nest fungus (Crucibulum
Bird’s nest fungus
produce fruiting bodies called
It gets its name from the foul odor
slime mold.
(Cyathus sp.).
bird’s nest fungus, and the artillery fungus.
of the cap of the fruiting body.