Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Puffball Fungi, Blackberry Varieties, Lawn Burweed, and Birdbath Idea

Common Fungus.

Common Fungus. Photo: Rebecca Olinde, Cheneyville, LA.

Puffball Fungi

Rebecca saw a fungal growth in her yard and sent this message, “Now I have a question regarding a very strange fungi growing in one area of my yard. This was in October. I took photos & meant to send to you then but got sidetracked. Please look at these pics and tell what it is. They reminded me of the back of a tortoise shell, box turtle type. Or a pile of dry cow manure! Fascinating but scary as they were large, dark brown and I had never seen anything like it. They grew bigger, one split a little, and stayed till mid-December then slowly dried more and sent out big puffs of smoky dust when kids ran through them. What is it , will it come back and is it poisonous?”

Ms. Jennifer Kluse, Herbaria Collections Manager, Bernard Lowy Mycological Herbarium at LSU, provided useful information, “Does it have a stalk? From the camera angle, it looks like a puffball (one of the mushrooms with no stalk). On the LSU campus I just saw a large one, 6 inches across or more, open with a plethora of spores inside. Puffballs are not poisonous, but I would not put any mushroom in my mouth without a 100% positive identification (scientific name). “

Blackberry guide.

Blackberry Growing Guide. Source: LSU AgCenter.

Blackberry Varieties

Mr. Vincent Deshotel, an Agriculture Agent for the AgCenter in Evangeline Parish, sent this email, “A client from Allen Parish reached out to me wanting information about popular varieties or domestic varieties of blackberries. Could you provide some information to me so I can forward that to him?” The AgCenter has a publication, “Blackberry Growing Guide” with information on site selection, site preparation, fertilization, varieties, pruning, trellising, weed/disease/insect management, harvest and handling, and recipes.

With respect to varieties, “Blackberries, like most fruit crops, require a period of cold temperature to produce fruit. The amount of cold required varies by variety. The cold period necessary to make fruit is often referred to as a chilling requirement and is measured in chill hours. Chill hours are any hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit that occur after the plants have gone dormant — when the plants have lost their leaves for the cool season.”

For south Louisiana, The ‘Brazos’ and ‘Kiowa’ varieties only require 200 chill hours and seem suitable for this area. Other varieties listed in the “Blackberry Growing Guide” require more hours for our local climate.

Burweed in the lawn.

Lawn burweed. Picture: LSU AgCenter.

Lawn Burweed

Peggy wants to know, “What do you spray on your yard to get rid of stickers?” Spraying lawn burweed before flowering would likely result in good control of spring stickers because the treatment will kill the flowers before the weed goes to seed by April. AHA has used Image® with atrazine and Weed Stop® with 2,4-D as spot treatments in his own landscape. As soon as burweed is observed, early spot spraying has been successful. Several inspections may be needed in January and February to catch the spurweed that may have germinated since the last spray.

Deck mounted bird bath.

A deck-mounted birdbath. Photo: Amazon

Birdbath Idea

Linda asked about hardscaping in her yard, “So after reading the article [‘Taking care of our feathered friends’ by Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard], I must ask what sort of bird bath is recommended. I have one on my handicap ramp that the VA installed, and the birds want nothing to do with it. I do not know if it is because of the overhang – which they love to play on and build nests on – or if it is because of the orange color.

I did have a humming bird come by, but it flew away when it realized it was not a big flower…. I even floated a bottle cap in the water thinking maybe they could not tell there was water there. Do you think I might be better off with a small, regular style bird bath on my ramp?”AHA consulted with Dr. Ashley Long, Extension Wildlife Biologist with the AgCenter, “[It is] hard to say for sure without seeing her set up, but I assume the overhang is a bigger issue than the color. If there is a railing along the ramp, you might recommend she investigate a deck mounted birdbath and try to place it so that it is not directly under the overhang. [It] would also take up a smaller amount of space on the ramp itself.”

Dr. Long also added, “If she searches for deck-mounted bird bath on Amazon, she’ll find a bunch of different styles, colors, and price options.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or .

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

1/29/2024 9:26:45 PM
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