Friday, October 28, 2011

Flower Pot Mushrooms

This week's blog was written by guest blogger Dusty Purcell. Dusty is a Mycologist/Plant Pathologist who studied at the University of Florida.

There are a few delicate little mushrooms that commonly sprout from the soil of nursery grown plants. The yellow species pictured below appears to be the most common of them.

Leucocoprinus birnbaumii growing with crape myrtle trees in a nursery. The pale specimen on the left is mature and has a fully expanded cap. The picture on the right depicts several young mushrooms whose caps haven’t yet opened up into little parasols.
Despite its frequency, it has no universally accepted common name, though flower pot mushroom would be appropriate. It goes by the scientific name Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, but some field guides may list it as Leucocoprinus luteus. These mushrooms don’t harm the plants they share potting soil with; they just decompose the organic matter in the soil. You may see them any time of the year in Florida, but in the cooler months you’re more likely to see them in a greenhouse or at the base of a houseplant. While they are most conspicuous when growing with potted plants, they can also be found in compost piles, old mulch, and among the twigs and leaf-litter of the forest floor.

Mature mushrooms range from pale to bright yellow and stand about 4 inches tall. I’ll forego the detailed description here… If you see little yellow mushrooms growing from your potted plants it’s pretty safe to assume that this is your guy. They are tissue-paper delicate and don’t normally last more than a day or two before shriveling away. So try to enjoy the short lived novelty of this harmless mushroom if you ever see them among your houseplants.

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