Weird fungus or something in my front garden

(Question)

The picture attached shows a fungus or mold which has twice appeared on the mulch of my front garden. Any idea what it is? It’s soft and mushy if you push it.

 

 

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(Answer)

This looks like dog vomit slime mold, Fuligo septica. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Fuligo Septica, the “Dog-vomit” Slime Mold, in Landscapes  provides details about the life cycle of the mild.  Here’s a good article with photos of the fungus at its different life stages: Dog Vomit Fungus Pictures and Information .

The good thing about the fungus is that other than being a slipping hazard, it’s harmless – a cosmetic problem. If the slime appears on the grass, it may cause it to turn the grass yellow for awhile (because it’s blocked the sun); but once the slime disappears, the grass will recover. Slime molds are actually beneficial, as they help to decompose organic material, so help with providing gardens with nutrients.  So this is not such a bad addition to your mulch!  Slime molds may also help reduce plant diseases, by getting rid of fungi or bacteria in the soil that act as pathogens. See also the Iowa State University Extension’s Slime in the yard and garden.

There is no need to do anything to get rid of it. It should go away on its own, in dry weather. However, if it’s bothering you, as the slime mold needs a moist environment, go ahead and break it up with a rake; this allows air to get into the slime, which will help to dry it out.  And as you’ve found, the slime mold may reappear when conditions are right, e.g., when wet weather returns.    For more details, see an earlier Q&A posted on our website: What is this odd fungus-like thing growing in my mulch?  – this provides a link to the University of Guelph’s Slime moulds on lawns and in the garden.