FUNGUS IN GRASS - Knowledgebase Question

Beltsville, MD (Zone 6B)
Avatar for keithadams
Question by keithadams
July 7, 2005
Question: My lawn gets a round fungus that is white in color. The size ranges from golf ball to baseball. When it is broken open, it is brown and powder like. I live in a new home community and have to water my grass often or it will die. Please help me identify it and is it toxic?

Answer from NGA
July 7, 2005
I think what you have is a puffball fungus. This is the fruiting body -- as with any mushroom -- so its appearance in the lawn is temporary and seasonal. It will stop on its own once conditions are no longer favorable and/or once the wood it is feeding on is decayed underground. It is not damaging to the lawn, and in fact is part of the natural cycle of decay and soil replenishment. It is growing on some sort of wood that is buried underground, it does not grow on live plants. You can pick them off (this should slow the spread as they dispurse spores when they burst) to make sure children or pets do not eat them, and if they are concentrated in one area you could theoretically dig down and remove whatever wood source they are growing on. Sometimes this is not practical if it is for instance a huge old tree remains, but if it is just a piece of say construction debris it would be relatively easy to do. In my experience removing them a few times is usually all it takes. Since it is very difficult to identify mushrooms in the wild, I would assume it is not edible and keep children and pets from ingesting it. You could possibly obtain a more specific identification through your county extension if you need one. Enjoy your new home!

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