If you’re anything like us, you love a good mushroom! These quirky little fungi come in many shapes and sizes that grow in the woods and gardens with sufficient moisture.
There is one fungus; however, that strikes fear into the nose of anyone who smells it: the stinkhorn fungus! If you have encountered these before, you will know them very well, which may lead you to ask: how do you get rid of stinkhorn fungus?
To effectively remove stinkhorn fungus, they must be dug out from the root, and the surrounding soil must be removed.
Although there are a lot of benefits to having fungus growing in your garden, these smelly mushrooms can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth.
This article is going to make you acquainted with stinkhorn fungus and show you exactly how to get rid of it.
What is Stinkhorn Fungus?
So, before we get into how to get rid of stinkhorn fungus, we need to learn a little more about it.
Stinkhorn fungus in all its forms can be found in temperate regions, but they are most prevalent in tropical areas.
Within your garden, you can discover stinkhorns growing in mulch, on lawns, or in bare soil that is particularly moist.
There are wide varieties of stinkhorn mushrooms that come in a myriad of colors and shapes, but they can all be identified by their smell!
This fragrant fungus gets its name from the intense odor they emit and the horn-shaped growth of many varieties. The scent has been compared to carrion or fresh dung and is very strong.
The source of the smell is a slimy substance that appears at the tip of mature stinkhorn fungus. This foul-smelling substance contains the spores of the mushroom, which they need to spread in order to reproduce. They do this using the flies that are attracted by their odor. The flies land on the slime and carry the spores away once they are done feeding.
How to Get Rid of Stinkhorn Fungus
While they may be suitable for decomposing dead organic material, we can understand why you might want to remove them. Their putrid smell is very off-putting, and the flies they attract are a huge pest.
Some may recommend using distilled vinegar or diluted bleach to kill stinkhorns. While this may be effective, it can affect your soil and the plants around them, so we don’t recommend these methods.
Leave Them Alone
We know that these smelly mushrooms can be gross, but there are a lot of reasons why you might want to keep them in place.
Like many forms of fungus, stinkhorns are wonderful decomposers that help speed up the recycling of dead plant matter into nutrients for other plants, which improves soil fertility.
Stinkhorns also have a very short life span. They will generally grow to full maturity and only live 12 hours before shriveling down and dying out. So really, you will only have the smell hanging around your garden for a short period. However, they will keep respawning from the same area and other areas they have managed to spread their spores.
However, if you have small children or animals, then we recommend removing them just in case they get hold of them and ingest them.
Unfortunately, fungicides are useless against stinkhorns, so you need to take other measures.
To get rid of the stinkhorn fungus:
Dig Out the Fungus
Stinkhorn fungus can be plucked out of the ground by hand, but this will only solve your problem temporarily.
To prevent the mushroom from growing back, you need to remove the egg-shaped base that anchors the mushroom in the soil. You can do this by digging the whole mushroom out with a spade.
But this is not the only area that may be affected. We suggest removing a few inches of soil six inches around where the mushroom was growing.
Place the fungus and the affected soil in a bag and tie it tightly before disposing of it.
Take Preventative Measures
The best way to prevent more stinkhorns from growing is to replace your mulch with a fresh layer and try to get some control over your soil moisture. The stinkhorns love growing in moist environments, so letting the soil dry out a little will make the environment less suitable for fungus growth.
If at all possible, we recommend placing your compost heap as far from your house as possible. This will mean that if stinkhorn fungus grows in it, it will help your compost break down without the off-putting smell reaching your nose.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What happens if you touch a stinkhorn mushroom?
While we don’t recommend playing with or eating stinkhorn mushrooms, they are not harmful to the touch.
If you do touch one, we suggest washing your hands thoroughly afterward. Using gardening gloves is a good option to make sure you’re staying safe but throw them in the wash right away to avoid contamination.
Is stinkhorn fungus toxic to dogs?
Unfortunately, stinkhorn fungus is toxic to dogs and can be fatal, especially to smaller breeds.
The pungent smell will attract the animals, which could tempt them to try a bite. If you have animals, then we strongly urge you to follow the steps above to get rid of them.
Can you eat stinkhorn fungus?
It may sound crazy, but stinkhorn fungus is edible at certain stages, even though it smells very unappetizing.
They are only edible at the eggs stage when the inner layer can be cut out and eaten. It is crunchy and almost radish-like. We only suggest eating wild fungi under the supervision of a professional.
With its pungent smell and habit of attracting insects, we are not surprised that you are keen to get rid of your stinkhorn fungus.
The easiest way to get rid of stinkhorn fungus is to dig them out with a spade. We also suggest adjusting the moisture levels of your soil to stop them from growing back again.
After this, your mulch should be fungus and smell-free!