Blame the Weather, Not the Dog, for Unsightly Mold

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Get ready gardeners. It’s time for the disgusting, but harmless, slime mold to rear its ugly head in Burke County landscapes and it is now being reported all over Burke County. Slime mold is a fungus-like organism that appears in mulched areas in summer. This organism feeds on bacteria found in decaying plant material. When trees are cut and dragged through the forest they pick up the fungus from the forest floor. When the trees are turned into mulch and spread in your garden beds, the spores lay in wait until weather conditions are just right and then they quickly grow into a nasty looking mass of yellowish goo that many people mistake for dog vomit. Hence, the common name for this phenomenon is dog vomit fungus or even sometimes scrambled egg fungus although it isn’t really a fungus at all.

But even though it sounds awful and looks even worse, slime mold is completely harmless. There are over 900 species of this organism throughout the world and it is found on every continent-anywhere moist mulched areas exist. There is no chemical control for this summer nuisance but it can be lifted out of the mulch with a pitchfork and deposited in a plastic bag to be thrown in the trash. It might come back and even grow up around landscape plants but it does no harm. If it grows around desirable plants just wash it away with the water hose. When weather conditions turn drier the problem usually goes away.

So, my best advice to area gardeners is don’t accuse our fuzzy friends of throwing up in your landscape and I definitely would not entice the neighborhood canines with any Pepto-Bismol-coated dog biscuits!