Strange growth below a bird feeder (thistle) #383422 - Ask Extension


Strange growth below a bird feeder (thistle) #383422

Asked January 28, 2017, 3:24 PM EST

What is this? Showed up about 2 Weeks ago... It is below a thistle feeder but doesn't look like a thistle plant... Also it's winter and we would not expect something to be growing.

Montgomery County Maryland

Expert Response

This looks unusual.  We cannot make an accurate identification of the growth in your photos.  We would like to see a sample if possible.  
Please send a sample of the growth/plant/fungus to the Home & Garden Information Center.  Scoop a representative sample of the growth and place it on some newspapers in a box, no plastic.  No envelopes.  

I dropped a sample in the mail yesterday. Don't know how well it will fare in the mail but interested in your thoughts. 
The Question Asker Replied February 08, 2017, 7:33 AM EST
We are happy to be able to inform you that your sample is a primitive fungus, phycomyces  nitensIt is a "dung fungus." In this case, bird droppings. 

Here is a good discussion in a fungus forum, but you can search for more info online:

Thanks for your intriguing question. 

Very interesting and glad it's only dung fungus! It actually looked pretty nice during the beginning and was filling in where the squirrels have ravaged our ivy... Looking for spilled niger and shelled sunflower seeds. Does this propagate from the bird dung (ie, is this from their poop) or is just spores finding a home and host to land on and develop?

I do want to thank you for your time. What a great service you provide... Alan Mount
The Question Asker Replied February 15, 2017, 4:15 PM EST
Just spores taking advantage of an inviting spot.  All part of the decomposition process.

And it was our pleasure.

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