Cedar mulch covered in smelly white fungus?

Discussion in 'Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds' started by mtnic, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. mtnic

    mtnic Member

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    Billings, MT USA
    This spring when my perennials started to come up, I raked most of my mulch over to the edges of my garden. Now that the days will start heating up, I began raking it between my plants today. On one side of my border, as soon as I started raking, I saw a bright white substance- sticky, fungus-smelling, and almost thread-like; throughout one entire side of my garden. It has a strong odor- not necessarily disgusting, although I find it so- but very fungus-y. The mulch was piled about 4 inches, maybe a bit more in some places, but the white substance was present throughout- down to the ground. Do I need to remove all of the affected mulch or can it be treated in some way? I don't want to spread any sort of problem around my perennial garden as it is quite large. I first noticed this white substance last summer when I was transplanting a trumpetvine. It was present in the soil surrounding it- I could see there were pieces of cedar and other organic materials breaking down in the soil surrounding the plant and thought that it may just be nature's way of decomposing the wood. It is in the same area as the plant I transplanted (where it was originally anyway). Now I'm wondering if by transplanting the vine, I disturbed something and caused it to grow prolifically. It is rather unsightly.

    Thanks in advance for your help with this matter as well as my other recent issues. I appreciate your wisdom!
     

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  2. Frog

    Frog Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi Mtnic,

    Mushrooms are the fruit of the fungi, and the white stuff is mycelia, the body of the fungus.
    In a general sense, you can't tell which kind of fungus a mycelial mat is, eg. wood decay fungus, mycorrhizal (plant-partner) fungus, leaf-litter-eater, etc.

    But your photo, and the quantity of mycelia present, suggest wood decay fungi, which break down the wood chips in your mulch, freeing the wood breakdown products for ingestion by both the fungi and your plants.

    ...If wood decay fungi were not here, the planet would be miles deep logs and other dead plant matter.

    cheers :-)
    frog
     
  3. mtnic

    mtnic Member

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    I have seen no mushrooms to accompany the mycelia, only the white substance. There is a MASSIVE amount of it too. I am afraid of spreading a fungal disease to my roses and other perennials. Are wood decay fungi harmless? I understand the need to break down the wood mulch but don't want to endanger the health of the 100+ perennials in the garden. How long will it be there? Until it is broken down? That will be a long time, I'm afraid. I began planting a living mulch- low growing plants, herbs and groundcovers instead of cedar bark mulch this year, but it will take a while to fill in so I'm stuck with the cedar mulch for a while. The odor of the fungi will definitely keep me away from my garden this summer if it isn't gone.
     
  4. C.Wick

    C.Wick Active Member

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    Mushrooms are only the fruiting bodies we see...not the actual GROWING bodies. The mycelium/roots are what do the main action....and can grow for unmeasurable distances sometimes.
    You may never see a true mushroom with this particular wood-decayer.
     
  5. mtnic

    mtnic Member

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    Thanks for your info, apparently this is a familiar issue? I guess my primary concern is that it not harm my roses. I've had a really hard spring in my garden with all of the slugs and I would seriously just lose it if I spread a fungus to my roses. In your opinion, is it best to just allow it to live there in my mulch or should I remove it all and replace it with some other sort of mulch?
     
  6. fish dr

    fish dr Active Member

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    Don't worry, it's harmelss. Like a vulture, it only eats dead stuff, and converts it into nutrients for your roses.

    It will probably retreat underground, and the smell will relent. Not watering too much will help.

    There's nothing else you can do about it...that will work, that is.

    IF you get mushrooms come the fall rains, drop us some photos.

    Best regards,

    Fish Dr.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009

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