In one area of the garden in the house I bought couple of months back, we have mulch and recently we are seeing the following. Not sure if this is a mushroom or not. My current guess is that the mulch is very old and needs to be replaced. But I would like to know more about why this is growing.

Picture-1 Picture-2

  • 1
    It looks a little like Auricularia -- wood ear mushroom and similar, but I've (personally) never seen it in mulch. You are in NW US? It's a little hard to see from above; does it have a stalk ("stem") or attach directly? Perhaps you can unearth one whole and photograph? In general, fungi of many types are common in mulch; at least this isn't a stinkhorn!
    – hoc_age
    Oct 12, 2015 at 19:43
  • @hoc_age: Yes I live near Redmond, WA. It doesn't have a stalk. Its attached directly on the mulch. I'll carefully dig up one next time and photograph it. I expected it to come out like the mushrooms that are available in stores, but to my surprise I had to apply some force on the hand shovel to get it off.
    – yasouser
    Oct 13, 2015 at 6:48
  • @hoc_age: Just curious about your question on where I live. Is it quite common in this part of the US?
    – yasouser
    Oct 13, 2015 at 6:53
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    Questions on where you live aren't "nosyness" on our part, but help tremendously with identification. This holds true for all plants, from fungi to trees. You may always somewhat neutrally state where you "found" something instead of writing "in my garden" if you don't want to disclose where you live.
    – Stephie
    Oct 13, 2015 at 7:09
  • @Stephie: Sorry if my question came across wrongly. I was more curious on where these mushrooms grow and the environments that are conducive for it to grow. I wasn't concerned about the "nosyness" factor in the way hoc_age framed the comment :)
    – yasouser
    Oct 13, 2015 at 8:08

2 Answers 2


Definitively a mushroom, a cup fungus of the pezizaceae family. (Precise identification is difficult over the internet.)

What you see are the fruiting bodies - not unlike the apples on a tree. The fungus itself lives in the mulch / soil and is saprobiontic, which means it digests the wood chips of your mulch. This is perfectly normal and part of the breaking down of organic matter. You wrote yourself that your mulch is pretty "old".


I'll confirm that the identification of Peziza fungus is accurate in Stephie's answer, and it is a saphrophytic fungus, meaning it merely digests dead material, link below (if you scroll down) shows one or two which are more like yours to look at. These are commonly known as cup fungi. Now that it's present, even if you replace your bark chips with new, it's likely the mycelium will still be in the area, and you may get fruiting bodies like these appearing again.


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