What is this fungal ball at base of tomato plant?
by James Hendon
(Santa Ana, CA)
I have a Roma tomato plant with a fungal ball surrounding the base of the plant. It is beige in color, soft to the touch and bleeds a translucent orange liquid when lightly touched. It is black in the interior. I have cultivated mushrooms for many years and am familiar with many families of fungi but have never seen anything like this.
Interestingly, this plant was very slow growing after planting from the nursery. In fact, it barely grew at all for 6 weeks. It didn't die, or wilt, or shrivel, it just simply did not grow. About a week ago it began sending out new growth and seemed healthy, and suddenly this ball appeared around the base of the plant. At this point, I cannot tell if it is affecting the plant negatively.
Pictures attached, I am very, very curious to know if anyone has ever seen this, what it is, and what I should do.
Many thanks for all who take a look and offer advice.