ID mushroom/fungus

Asked September 23, 2018, 1:16 AM EDT

Some years back we had a tree removed near the curb. My guess is that some of the roots were left and then covered over with soil. Now there are mounds beginning to sprout, first a large one maybe 11" long (see attached photo) and now smaller ones.
I can't dig them up but did manage to chop off part of the large one revealing its chocolate-brown innards (spores?). Can you identify and maybe suggest how I can deal with them? Thank you, Jack Levine.

Los Angeles County California

1 Response

Thanks for your question, Jack. Your analysis is correct, but, since fungi are specific to plants, I would need to know what species of tree was removed. Until (1) you remove all roots or (2) the fungus decomposes all of the subterranean fibrous tissue, you’re going to see these mushrooms. You can explain everything in the garden with two words: food and sex. The below-ground part of the fungus is eating/surviving on the decaying roots—which it is helping decay by breaking it down. The above-ground structure, called the ‘fruiting’ part of the organism, has spores—akin to seeds in flowering plants—whose purpose is to continue the species. (Fungi are not plants. They cannot make their own food—like animals—and they have their own Kingdom.) So, you can ‘deal with’ them by leaving them alone, knowing that they are returning nutrients to the soil to be absorbed by new and existing plants. Good luck!