Mushrooms In the Landscape

Mushrooms associated with trees, lawn, mulch, and even house plants, are macroscopic fruiting bodies of certain fungi. Fungi develop a microscopic network of structures underground (Hyphae, Mycelia), associated with trees and other plants, and often embedded in the substrate (soil, living or dead wood, etc.) and extracting nutrients from it. Mushrooms and fungi, in general, are one of the many nature's recyclers.

The networks of fungal mycelia develop in circles, and therefore in some instances, you can see mushrooms growing in large rings. For example, see Fairy Rings in Lawns.

Fungal fruiting bodies form when favorable environmental conditions, such as humidity and temperature, and spores develop within the mushroom.

Some mushrooms may be associated with living or declining trees and may have the appearance of brackets or conks. Some of them can cause wood decay, heartwood rots of trees, root and butt rot, in healthy or injured trees with cracks

Mushrooms may also develop in tree stumps. Once established in the lawn, tree, or tree stump, no cure or treatment is available. There is no treatment to eradicate them. 

If you want to learn more about mushrooms common in IA, including a calendar of historical occurrence, role in nature, and known toxicity, see the field guide Safe Mushroom Foraging. For the interactive mushroom, calendar visit the Mushroom Foraging in Iowa page 


Fungal conks on tree trunk
Fungal conks on tree trunks:  left, Ganoderma conk; right; Phellinus conk


Boletes mushrooms
Boletes mushrooms are fleshy stalked pore fungi that usually grow on the ground in wooded areas, and sometimes in lawns.



Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Yard and Garden, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on September 10, 2021. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.