No matter where you live, nature always finds a way to bring some fantastic surprises right to our doorsteps. There are many different types of fungi that you may find in your garden or throughout your grass. When you are out in your backyard doing some landscaping, you might notice some fungi friends growing in your yard, and it’s nice to have a quick guide to determine whether you should get rid of mushrooms in your garden or keep them for the whimsical ambiance. There are several different types of mushrooms you can find in your yard, some being edible mushrooms, while others could be poisonous mushrooms, and of course, everything in between. No matter the case, this guide will go over some of the most common mushrooms you can find in your own backyard so that you can start identifying them right away!
Most mushrooms you may commonly find growing in your yard are unlikely toxic, though there are plenty of poisonous species to look out for. These potentially hazardous mushrooms may be safe for your garden but pose a threat to curious children or family pets if consumed by them.
The mower’s mushroom is one of the most common mushrooms you can find growing in your yard. The small, brown mushroom grows well in lawns and other grassy areas. It has a cone-shaped cap when young, expanding to a flatter shape as it matures. The gills are initially light in color but become darker and grayish as it reaches maturity. Its cap can range in different shades of brown, though it tends to have a darker hue in the middle. Although the mower’s mushroom is not incredibly toxic, it is best to avoid consumption, and it can cause more severe reactions in young children and pets.
The green-spore parasol, known as the false parasol, is a very common find in lawns and other grassy areas. Its cream-colored cap measures from five to thirty centimeters across, initially convex in size until it becomes flatter during maturity. The stem typically has a ring on it. It is usually covered in darker-colored scales. The gills start out white but eventually become a greenish-gray hue once they mature. The green-spored parasol resembles some very popular edible parasol species, though its green-spored underside is a key characteristic to help distinguish the species. The toxic fungus is one of North America’s most common causes of mushroom poisoning and can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues if consumed.
The milky conecap is relatively common in grassy areas, though it is incredibly fragile and often droops, dries out, or breaks apart shortly after fruiting. The mushroom has a white bell-shaped cap and a thin, weak stem. Though the species is not known to be entirely toxic, some scientists speculate that the milky conecap could contain toxins, especially since many species within the Conocybe genus can be incredibly toxic and even deadly.
With its bright red cap and iconic white spots, the fly agaric mushroom is an incredibly recognizable toadstool that can appear in yards, especially under birch, pine, and spruce trees. Despite its beautiful appearance, the fly agaric contains the toxic, psychoactive compounds ibotenic acid and muscimol, which can lead to intense hallucinations and gastrointestinal issues and, in more severe cases, cause seizures, delirium, comas, and death.
The destroying angel mushroom, otherwise known as the death angel, is known for its incredibly lethal nature. It is one of the most poisonous mushrooms and contains several deadly amatoxins. The white mushroom has a cap that ranges from five to ten centimeters in length and starts out egg-shaped but eventually becomes more convex or flat as it matures. The stem ranges from ten to fifteen centimeters and has a skirt-like ring around the upper stalk. This mushroom is usually found around woodlands but can also pop up in your yard, especially near old tree roots in areas on the outskirts of woods.
Despite all the toxic fungi on this list, many mushrooms you encounter in your yard are generally harmless, and some are even edible!
Please do not eat any wild mushrooms unless you have had assistance identifying them from an experienced mycologist and you are entirely certain that you are eating the correct species and not a toxic look-alike.
Several kinds of puffball mushrooms can grow on your lawn, but the most familiar are the common puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) and the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea). Both of these species are considered great edible mushrooms due to their mild flavor and soft, spongy texture comparable to tofu. However, puffballs must be consumed when they are still young and have white inner flesh. You should always be 100% sure of its identification before consuming, as there are some toxic mushrooms with a similar appearance.
The common puffball is small and rounded, studded with pointy-looking spines. The giant puffball is significantly larger and can reach up to two feet long! It tends to be smoother and is often easier to identify once it grows into its larger state.
Fairy ring mushrooms get their name from the circular pattern they form while growing in yards and grassy areas. This growth pattern, known as a fairy ring, is caused by the mycelium underground expanding outwards from a central point, causing the mushrooms to grow in a circular shape. The caps of these mushrooms are around two to five centimeters in diameter and are tan with white gills underneath.
Fairy ring mushrooms are considered edible and have a robust, sweet flavor and crunchier texture, though these species have several toxic look-alikes. Before consuming any wild mushroom, ensure that you are confident of its identification before you even consider consuming them.
In its mature form, the common stinkhorn has a very distinctive appearance and odor. It has a long, white, cylindrical stem and a slimy, greenish-brown conical cap often covered with deep divots. The common stinkhorn can be found in lawns but specifically prefers areas covered in wood chips and mulch. This mushroom is technically edible, though we would never recommend eating it once it has hit maturity, as its foul odor is entirely too repulsive to consider. However, in its immature form, the stinkhorn forms a spherical white ‘egg’ that grows underground. This part of the mushroom, known as a witch’s egg, has a flavor and texture comparable to a radish.
The shaggy ink cap is also known as the shaggy mane or lawyer’s wig. The mushroom gets its distinctive and unique name and appearance from its long cylindrical cap covered in shaggy scales. It can be found growing in people’s yards, particularly in groups after recent rainfall. Many foragers insist that shaggy main is incredibly delicious with its mild, pleasant flavor and texture. Though the mushroom is considered edible, you can only consume it when it’s in its younger stage and before it starts dissolving into an inky black liquid. Once the mushroom begins maturing and starts to dissolve, it is considered inedible. When consuming young, shaggy mane mushrooms, you should avoid alcohol as it can lead to an incredibly uncomfortable but not fatal condition called Coprinic syndrome.
The meadow mushroom can be found in pastures or grassy yards. Their cap ranges from one to four inches wide with a cream to light brown color. When you scratch or bruise the skin, it should not stain yellow like its poisonous look-alike Agaricus xanthodermus.
Beneath the caps are pink gills in younger mushrooms, which turn brown as it reaches maturity. The white stem is sturdy and may have a subtle ring around it. Though this mushroom is in the same family as the button mushroom and is incredibly tasty and versatile in dishes, it has some highly poisonous look-alikes, such as the destroying angel mushroom. This is why if you ever harvest them, you should harvest them when they are younger and have pink gills, as this is one of their more distinctive features. If consuming, always be 100% certain you have the right mushroom, and always cook wild mushrooms thoroughly to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
The ringless honey fungus is usually found in yards around trees, tree stumps, and near roots. The cap is a golden honey brown and one to four inches wide. Unlike other species of honey fungi, this mushroom does not have a ring. The gills beneath the cap are light in color and turn to a yellowish hue as it matures. These mushrooms are edible but must be thoroughly cooked to soften their tough stem and avoid gastrointestinal distress. Most people consume only the cap because of the stem’s long cooking time.
Most mushrooms that you will find in your yard are generally harmless and contribute greatly to your backyard ecosystem. In fact, the presence of fungi is an indication of healthy soil, and most fungi will not negatively impact your grass or gardens. However, if you have young children or pets, you may be concerned that they may accidentally ingest one of the toxic species of mushrooms on this list. Though it may be difficult to completely remove fungi from your garden, it definitely can be done.
Though mowing over your mushrooms with a lawnmower may seem like a solid plan to remove fungi, it is not the most effective method and could worsen the problem. Mushrooms are simply the fruiting bodies of an entirely larger fungal organism living underground. Mowing over your lawn may not prevent mushroom growth from reappearing, and it could actually spread the spores around, leading to more mushrooms growing in your yard. Fungicides may also appear to be a worthwhile route in removing lawn mushrooms, but they are not always effective and can be toxic to children and animals exposed to them.
The best way to remove mushrooms from your yard is by pulling them out by hand as soon as you see them sprout. The longer you wait to remove mushrooms, the more time they have to develop their spores and spread further. When removing the mushrooms from your yard, try to pull out as much of it as possible. Remember, there’s a whole organism underneath the mushroom that will continue to grow if it has the chance. Treat the area with a baking soda solution or soapy water to increase the pH of the soil and inhibit mushroom growth.
Mushrooms thrive off moisture, so if your yard does not have the best drainage, you can try aerating your lawn to improve the soil drainage and decrease moisture levels. You may also want to consider reducing irrigation. Although consistent watering is vital to lawn care, the mushrooms in your yard will continue to thrive if you nourish them with plenty of water.
Remove any organic matter in your yard, such as animal waste and decomposing leaf mulch. Mushrooms grow and thrive in certain substrates, and reducing any organic material on your property can reduce the elements that mushrooms crave.