Artillery Fungus and Joseph Heller

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you."

~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22

When this miraculous summer rain let up a couple of days ago, I did my routine tour and look-see about the garden. I was looking for germinated seedlings of zinnias, cockscomb, peppers...a leftover cleome perhaps from last year.

While on these garden rounds, particularly if the weather is pleasant and I have adequate time for such amenable activity,

not a whole lot will escape my attention. 

So when I saw these galactic-looking colonies of what looked like small, up-turned acorn caps, I was not unsurprisingly...interested.

And then concerned. 

Because in my gardening experience and, yes, gardening paranoia, these kinds of observations...

are seldom auspicious. 

I remembered hearing an episode of You Bet  Y O U R
G A R D E N (read more here) with Mike McGrath expounding the virtues of leaf vs wood mulch, and the horrors of the artillery fungus:

"Those wood mulches are more frightening than the most gruesome ghoul--especially when they breed the fearsome 'shotgun' or 'artillery' fungus. Those nasty creatures breed in wood mulches, producing spores that permanently stain cars or homes within 30 feet of the mulch."

In his own inimitable style, of course...and to which I said yuck! and then said, in my horticultural, hypochondriacal way...I bet I have that!

And, sadly, my paranoia was justified.

For what was growing on the wood mulch in a very shady area of the garden, that had just received record amounts of rain for July


the dreaded artillery fungus...the first I've ever seen (or heard tell of) in Oklahoma. (Though fortunately I see no dreaded spots on my home or car.)

To find out more about the the genus Sphaerobolus   

and the artillery or shotgun fungus, read an article here by Dr. Donald Davis of Penn State University and 

tune in to 4 YOUR GARDEN tomorrow, Friday at 4:30 with me and Linda Cavanaugh.

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