Sonoran Desert Fungi

Presently this part of the field guide does not do justice to the diversity and importance of fungi in the Sonoran Desert. So for now it is a work in progress.

Bermuda Smut

Ustilago cynodontis

Bermuda Grass once it begins to flower will sometimes host this black fungus. More info

Bracket Fungus


Fungi help decompose dead riparian trees

Layered shelves emerge from dead tree trunks. White to brown in color depending on the species. More info

Diminutive Mushrooms


 © by Mike Plagens

Diminutive mushrooms on slender pedicels appearing after heavy rains. More info

Desert Shaggy Mane

Podaxis pistillaris

desert mushroom © by mike plagens

Tall narrow-capped mushroom with flaky scales. Appears after winter rains. More info

Fish-scale Lichen

Lichen piastewa

Pinkish lichen closely appressed to rock substrate. More info

Black Tar Lichen

Collema spp.

Jelly Lichen that looks like shiny pieces of tar

Lichen that grows on shady rock surfaces taking on a gelatinous texture when wet and growing. More info



black and red lichen © by mike plagens

Pearly black lichen discs with red bullseye fruiting bodies. More info


Astraeus hygrometricus

Hard-skinned Puffball © by mike plagens

A puffball that sets on a star-like pinwheel formed from the split-open cortex. More info

Powdery Mildew


Fungi help decompose dead riparian trees

Appears as white dusting on leaves of Pholisoma. Fungal hyphae penetrate leaf tissue and are parasitic. More info

Barley Mildew


Blotches of white powder adhering to surfaces of Foxtail Barley leaves. More info

Hollyhock Rust


Puccinia rust on Globe Mallow © by mike plagens

Raised, rusty brown splotches on undersides of leaves of Desert Globe Mallow and other mallows. More info

Mustard Leaf Fungus

Leptosphaeria maculans

Bright white clumps of hyphae on underside of mustard plant leaves. More info

Desert Broom Rust


Rust Fungus on Desert Broom © by mike plagens

Bright yellow fungus erupting from swollen stems of Desert Broom, Baccharis sarathroides. More info

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 5 July 2012,
updated 9 March 2017