Helpful fungi, harmful fungi
The majority of fungi species are ‘saprobic’ which means they ‘feed’ on dead organic material, so they are unlikely to negatively affect your living plants. Without these fungi, everything would be buried under piles of rotting wood and leaves, so really, they are actually a great help to gardeners.
Occasionally, saprobic fungi can adversely affect garden plants due to extensive mushroom growth able to smother young seedlings. Some people find mushroom growth amongst their plants unsightly, if you have stinkhorns growing in your lawn, the scent can be unpleasant.
However, it is the few species of fungi that are ‘pathogenic’ which can be truly troublesome. These fungi cause diseases and attack plants, feeding on live wood. Species like this to look out for are honey fungus (Armillaria) and silver leaf (Chondrostereum purpureum).
Honey fungus, Armillaria mellea, Vincent Ryan/ iStock
If you are concerned about these species growing near your plants, it is important to have them identified. There is no chemical treatment that you can use on these fungi and removing them will require the destruction of any material they have infected.