SAN DIEGO — Abbie Stevens posted a picture online and asked neighbors around Mt. Helix if they knew what a strange, egg-like-looking thing was that is growing on her tree.
The picture she posted recently was from last year before her husband knocked it off. But this year, the strange things started growing again.
People responded to his post by saying it was some kind of mushroom. So CBS 8 called Ivo Fedak with Mindful Mushrooms in El Cajon. We sent him the picture Stevens posted.
Note: Experts recommend that you do not mushrooms found in the wild. Without scientific testing, there is no way to know for certain what exact type of mushroom or Ganoderma species you may encounter in nature.
Fedak identified it as what he believed is a Reishi Mushroom. “That’s it in nature and we control it in a different way,” Fedak said.
Mindful Mushrooms organically grows everything from Oyster mushrooms and Shitake mushrooms, to Lions Mane and Reishi. They sell their products at local farmer's markets.
Should the mushrooms growing on the tree be cut off or left alone?
Fedak said, “I would just leave them alone. Eventually, they’ll drop spores. If you smash them they’ll spread even more. If you’re really worried about them, you can gently pick them off and throw them away.”
With that knowledge, we went to find Stevens. And underneath her family’s beautiful Pepper Tree, with mushrooms growing at its base, her husband told us a tree professional told them the shrooms were killing the tree.
CBS 8 contacted the San Diego Mycological Society, the fungi experts.
Pat Nolan is a plant pathologist that’s been with the society for years. She said, “This is a parasite because it's eating the tree.”
Nolan said a fungus can be in a tree years before you actually see its fruit growing on the surface.
But Nolan said Stevens shouldn't cut the tree down.
“I would just let it be. I would keep an eye out on it and let it grow because it can take years or decades before it can kill it,” Nolan said.
Nolan said even if someone knocks all the mushrooms down from a tree, it’s too late. The fungus is already living in the tree.
How do the mushrooms get there?
Nolan said spores of the fungus blow in the wind and they will often get in by a tiny wound in a tree. Or they could be introduced by a chainsaw.
“If someone cut a tree that had the fungus in it and then went and cut another tree, that fungus gets inoculated into the tree,” Nolan said.
How would you know if mushrooms have killed your tree?
Nolan said when the tree starts to die back, when you start to get a lot of dead branches on the top of it, that would tell you it’s getting closer to the end of its life.
These mushrooms are growing rampantly around San Diego right now because of the humidity.
But Nolan and Fedak both said you should not just pick up a mushroom and taste it in the wild.
Fedak said, “It could be poisonous. It's just better to be safe than sorry. Just go buy it at the store. And a dog has probably peed on it a few times anyway.”
WATCH RELATED: Tiny, pink eggs appear in Lake Murray | What are they?