University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers

Fungal Disease

Mushrooms and Puffballs
various Basidiomycete fungi

Mushrooms growing in turfgrass.
Mushrooms growing in turfgrass.
4 (1 = rare 5 = annual)
1 (1 = very little damage 5 = plants killed)

Mushrooms and puffballs may appear in maintained turfgrass as well as in ornamental planting beds.

Plants Affected

Many species of fungi produce mushrooms (toadstools) and puffballs that feed on decaying organic matter in the soil. These fungi, including those that produce fairy rings, are most common around dead and buried stumps, roots, boards, or excess thatch. The spore-producing mushrooms and puffballs, which are 1 to 12 inches in diameter, appear after heavy rains or watering. Some are foul-smelling; a few are poisonous.

Life Cycle

These nuisance fungi overwinter as white mycelia in the soil and in decaying organic matter. The fruiting bodies produce large numbers of microscopic spores that are spread by air currents, water, turfgrass equipment, and tools of all kinds.


Carefully dig up and destroy rotting stumps, roots, and other underground sources of organic matter. If you suspect the fungi of being poisonous to children or pets, break or mow off the fruiting bodies when first seen. Mushrooms and puffballs will disappear naturally only when the food base in the soil is exhausted. This process may take 10 years or more for a large stump or root.

Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
Illinois Commercial Landscape and Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic