How to tell if you have an artillery fungus living in your mulch.

I recently received an e-mail from a customer who discovered these tiny black specks on her siding, plants, and her car.

Here’s what she wrote:

“I have a serious problem outdoors, and need your company’s services. I’ve been busy and ignored it, not knowing what it was,  but I have something living in my mulch outside called Artillery Spores or Fungus.”

Thank goodness for Google!  The fungus is from the genus Sphaerobolus and can shoot spores up to 20 feet. These tiny black specks were concentrated in one area along her foundation wall where we installed mulch in early Spring. All the other areas were not affected. Artillery fungus comes from certain types of mulches or rotted wood that stays wet for a long period of time.  In rare instances, the wind can transport the fungus from trees.  When there is excessive rain and the mulch remains too wet, the water accumulates on top of these cup-shaped cells that burst onto light-colored surfaces,  hence the word artillery.

We’ve never had a problem in the past so this was all new to us.   We were originally going to replace the mulch with gravel, but the owner chose pine spruce mulch which was recommended by our supplier because it dries quickly and is less prone to molds. I hope this is the last we see of the “shotgun” fungus.

Here are some helpful articles on artillery fungus:

Have you ever experienced artillery fungus in your landscape? If so, what did you do about it?

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