Fungus Among Us

Mushroom in the euonymusThis summer has been so rainy and humid that alien creatures have invaded my garden: mushrooms. I discovered them one morning when I was watering the euonymus and spied what looked like a large yellow leaf on top of the soil. It turned out to be the cap of an elaborately gilled mushroom.

Fungus among usCurious, I let it stay. The next morning there were half a dozen more. The day after, another dozen. I pulled them up as fast as I could, but new ones sprung up over night–not appearing first as tender sprouts the way a plant would, but popping up as a fully formed army of ‘shrooms.

More mushrooms in the euonymus--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowA week later a whole different variety materialized up on the opposite side of the container–small, fuzzy things that looked vaguely like bottle brushes. That did it. My benevolent curiosity with the natural world was over. I just wanted to get rid of these things. Part of what makes mushrooms so nutritious (the non-poisonous ones, anyway) is that they are very efficient at drawing nutrients out of the soil. I don’t mind helping out the ecosystem, but not at the expense of my euonymus.

Fungus--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowThere was only one remedy, I was told: Pull up all the fungi, remove the top half inch of soil, and add fresh potting soil. So I did–with apparent success so far. But while I am tentatively declaring victory in the euonymus containers, I came outside the other morning to discover that the window boxes on my stoop were sprouting bright pink fungi. Even more strange, by the time I came home that evening, they were grey.

Fungus--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowSo far, these have been easier to tame. All I’ve had to do is pull them up. And while a few have popped up in other containers, they haven’t come back once I’ve removed the initial colony. But can anyone help me identify them?

Perplexed in Hoboken

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