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Bird’s Nest Fungus

CROPS IMPACTED: Dead wood, debris, landscaping mulch, decaying plant matter

Bird's Nest Fungus

Family: Nidulariaceae

Bird's Nest Fungus Bird's Nest Fungus

About Bird’s Nest Fungus

Life Cycle

Bird’s nest fungus is a fungus from the Nidulariaceae family. This species grow on dead plant material and consists of small networks of mycelium. The nests (called sporocarp), provide support for the fruiting bodies of the fungi (called periodoles). Structures covered by a membrane develop in the nest when the fungi are suitable for reproduction. Then, when raindrops come in contact with the egglike structures in the nest, they spring out and cling to nearby surfaces. The spores are located in the sacs and when they are mature, they are released into the ground to repeat the cycle. This process usually occurs throughout the months of July to October. Bird’s nest fungi are saprophytes, meaning they decompose organic materials. These fungi do not grow on living plants, making them harmless to living plants. For the most part they are overlooked by farmers and gardeners.

Bird’s Nest Fungus Identification and Habitat

Identification

Bird’s nest fungus gets its name from its visual similarity to a tiny bird’s nest filled with eggs. Their unique structure makes it fairly easy to identify them. The outer structure of the fungus is a typically brown cup-like structure with a smooth interior. Inside the cups there are small egg-like fruiting bodies which grow in groups. The cups are about ¼ inch to 5/8 inches in width and ¼ to 5/8 inches in height. The periodoles (egg-like structures) range from 1/32 to 1/16 inches in width.

Varieties

  • • Crucibulum
  • • Cyathus
  • • Mycocalia
  • • Nidula
  • • Nidularia

Habitat

This species of fungi grows on dead plant material, dead wood, landscaping mulch, and other decaying material. It doesn’t require many specific conditions to survive, as long as temperature is moderate and there are enough decaying materials around for spores to be spread. For spores to be spread, there must be intermittent rains, but only a few raindrops are required to cause the periodoles to spring out of the cup.

Bird’s Nest Fungus Management and Control Methods

Cultural Control

Most people choose not to control this species as it plays an important role in decomposing plant materials and providing nutrition to the soil.

Chemical Control

Chemical controls are uncommon for Bird’s nest fungus due to its environmental benefits. That being said, fungicides could work to deter the spread of this fungus, but this is not recommended. If using fungicides, read labels carefully for application instructions and cautionary tips.

Alternative Bird’s Nest Fungus Names

  • • Splash cup

Sources

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/Gardening-Handbook/PDF-files/GH-070--birds-nest-fungus.pdf

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/splash-cup-bird-s-nest-fungus