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Mushrooms and toadstools change as they age, so it can be difficult to identify them. Honey fungus can kill garden plants. Here’s how to check if a mushroom is likely to be honey fungus.
Honey fungus spore print with an ideal mushroom specimen
Fungi make multiple structures during their life cycles. Mushrooms or toadstools are their fruiting bodies. These carry spores (the fungal equivalent of seeds).
Taking a ‘spore print’ helps you identify different species as spore colours can be different. Making a spore print of a suspected honey fungus mushroom will help you distinguish it from the many other orange-brown mushrooms that may grow in the garden, but are harmless to living plants.
Honey fungus mushrooms release pale spores which are visible against a black background. In clumps of honey fungus mushrooms a white dusting on the tops of shorter mushrooms is caused by spore deposits from the caps above them. The precise colour of these spores can be white-cream, but spores darken as they dry.
There are other features of honey fungus infection that you can check for if you suspect it in your garden. These include white mycelium under the bark of roots and stem-bases as well as black rhizomorphs (aka bootlaces) on root surfaces and in the soil.
If you are an RHS member and you still unsure if you have correctly identified a honey fungus infection in your garden, send samples or photographs to RHS Gardening Advice for confirmation. To ensure you provide enough information for a successful identification, please send us:
Please note, honey fungus mushrooms are not important for the spread of the disease within gardens. Removing the fruiting bodies will not help protect healthy plants in your garden from becoming infected.
The RHS helps members with pathogenic fungi only, ie those that cause plant disease. We are unable to help in the identification of saprophytic fungi (non-harmful, decay fungi), neither can we confirm if such fungi are edible.
Honey fungusHoney fungus host listHoney fungus: managing outbreaksToadstoolsVideo: Identifying honey fungus
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