Do you have yellow mushrooms in your potted houseplant?
I receive a lot of emails from people questioning this strange mycological manifestation that suddenly graces their plant pots. To these folks I say: you've just met Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, the yellow houseplant mushroom!
Leucocoprinus birnbaumii (also known as Lepiota lutea) is quite common in potted plants and greenhouses. This species is considered inedible, although the exact toxicity is unknown. So don't eat them, no matter how candy-like they appear!
This mushroom pops up as a result of contaminated potting soil or mulch. The mushroom spores infect the soil, and are widely distributed as it's packaged and shipped. Infection can happen at any point, from a contaminated ingredient from a factory or farm to spores on the clothes of an employee.
Indoor identification of Leucocoprinus birnbaumii is pretty easy. If you have small yellow mushrooms growing in a potted houseplant, chances are you have this species.
That said, here are some basic facts:
What do you do about these yellow mushrooms?
First off, know that they will not hurt your houseplant. They also won't disturb you, your kids, or your pets unless they're eaten. If there's no danger of anyone eating them, it's perfectly fine to just leave them where they are and enjoy their beauty.
However, there is a chance that spores from Leucocoprinus birnbaumii will travel to your other plants and infect them as well. So if you don't want a house full of yellow mushrooms, or if you fear kids or dogs eating them, you can try one of the following to get rid of them:
Truthfully these mushrooms are very hard to get rid of. As the spores and mycelium (the vegetative growth of the fungus) are deeply settled in your plant pot and roots, it's difficult to remove them entirely.
The plant should be removed if there's a chance the mushrooms will be eaten by pets or children. Otherwise you may want to just leave them be, and enjoy the splash of color. They won't hurt you by sitting there, and they make a great conversation piece.
I hope you've enjoyed learning about Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, the yellow houseplant mushroom. The next time one pops up in your plant pot, you'll know what it is!
All photos on this page taken by Christine Greenspan.