These Mushrooms Look Like Real Birds' Nests

“Can you eat them?” is the question I’m inevitably asked when we find dense mats of mushrooms growing up from our wood chip mulch after a good rain.

Each mushroom is no more than the size of a pinky nail, just a few millimeters wide and tall. In their immature state, the mushrooms are inconspicuous nubs with spiky or fluted sides, fully enclosed to protect the “eggs” inside.

As they age, the caps rupture to reveal a nest of eggs denotive of the mushrooms’ common name: bird’s nest fungi.

What is bird’s nest fungus?

Bird’s nest fungi are part of the Nidulariaceae family of fungi, known for their stemless, rounded, hollow fruitbodies that resemble egg-filled birds’ nests. They include Nidularia, Nidula, Mycocalia, Crucibulum, and Cyathus.

They are excellent decomposers and thrive in damp, woodsy environments, often appearing in shady vegetable gardens or woody mulched paths.

Is bird’s nest fungus edible?

At a span of just a centimeter across, bird’s nest fungi are considered inedible due to their tiny size, though no study has ever shown them to be poisonous.

How do you get rid of bird’s nest fungus?

Of all the fungi present in a garden, bird’s nest fungus is one of the most beneficial because of its natural composting abilities. It isn’t harmful to humans, dogs, wildlife, or living plants, so control measures aren’t necessary.

But if the “eggs” become a nuisance, you can lessen the chances of bird’s nest fungi appearing in your yard by raking the soil frequently, decreasing irrigation in shady areas, and using living mulches and edible ground covers in your garden beds.

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