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Characterized by clusters of colourless to brown swollen phialides at the tips of colourless to brown, sometimes branched, conidiophores. The dark brown 1-celled spores (conidia) are produced successively from the tips of the phialides and collect in wet masses. Species with spores in chains are referred to Memnoniella. A strong decomposer of cellulose and thus usually associated with decaying plant materials.

Courtesy of Botany Department, University of Toronto.

Description and Habitats

Stachybotrys, sometimes misspelled as Stachybotris is a greenish black mold that grows on material with a high cellulose content or such as hay, straw, wicker, and wood chips, as well as building materials such as ceiling tile, drywall, paper vapor barriers, wallpaper, insulation backing, cardboard boxes, paper files, fiberboard, the paper covering of gypsum wallboard, particleboard, jute, dust, and wood when these items become water damaged. This mold requires very wet or high humid conditions for days or weeks in order to grow. Most mold spores can begin growing after just 24 hours of wetness, whereas Stachybotrys spores take at least 48 hours of sustained wetness to begin growth. 

Stachybotrys survives and grows best in a continually wet environment such as a slow water leak in a wall, or in a building suffering from ongoing high humidity levels. Excessive indoor humidity resulting in water vapor condensation on walls, plumbing leaks, spills from showering or bathing, water leaking through foundations or roofs may lead to growth of many types of mold, including stachybotrys. 

Because Stachybotrys spores are rarely airborne, Stachy is usually identified by direct swabs, or lift tape samples of the mold itself with laboratory analysis of the collected physical samples. When active and growing in a wet environment, Stachy can look black, shiny, and slimy.  Also, please read the information about Stachybotrys from the California Department of Health.


Based on the information provided on the informative mycological website,,  the genus Stachybotrys has a single well-known species which is Stachybotrys chartarum.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Giant colony on PDA


Potato extract 200 g
Glucose: 20 g
Distilled water: 1 L
Agar: 15 g
pH 5.6

Courtesy of the website Pathogenic Fungi Database.

Slide culture on PDA

Health Effects

Health problems associated with Stachybotrys chartarum were first noted in the 1930s and 1940s when Russian and Eastern European farm animals specifically horses ate moldy hay experienced immune system suppression, infection and bleeding that was fatal with high doses. In 1938, Russian scientists determined the disease was associated with stachybotrys (then known as S. alternans) growing on the straw and grain fed to the animals.

While the first reported human health effects were seen in agricultural workers who handled the moldy straw or hay.  In the early 1940's reports of stachybotryotoxicosis in humans appeared in Russia.  People affected where those who handled or were in close contact with hay or feed grain infested with stachybotrys.  Some of these individuals had burned the straw or slept on straw-filled mattresses. Common symptoms in humans were dermatitis, pain and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, a burning sensation of the nasal passages, tightness of the chest, cough, bloody rhinitis, fever, headache and fatigue.

Between the 1950's and the 1980's there were continued publications on stachybotryotoxicosis but few that indicated a potential problem with stachybotrys in homes and buildings.  In 1986, Croft et al. reported an outbreak of trichothecene toxicosis in a Chicago home.  Over a 5-year period, the family complained of headaches, sore throats, flu-like symptoms, recurring colds, diarrhea, fatigue, dermatitis and general malaise.  Air sampling of this home revealed spores of stachybotrys.  The fungus was found growing on moist organic debris in an uninsulated cold air duct and on some wood fiber ceiling material. The home had a chronic moisture problem that favored mold growth. Extracts from the duct debris and contaminated building materials were toxic to test animals and several macrocyclic trichothecenes were identified in the extracts. When the mold problem was corrected, these symptoms associated with trichothecene toxicosis disappeared.

Since the collapse of the Twin Towers, many surrounding buildings have been discovered in NYC that were contaminated with "heavy amounts of stachybotrys."  Most of these buildings were old and water damaged.  With more public awareness, there will be more and more reports of stachybotrys appearances.  What many news stories have down played, however, is the fact that there were high amounts of asbestos residue intermingled with the building debris, thus making the aftermath much more toxic than what may have been expected.  Any aerosol tests that may have been performed would have picked up several types of evidence of sick-building syndrome.  A small portion of that would have been, at best, stachybotrys of the ruined muddle of destruction, but it is important to remember everything has been quite stirred up due to unnatural occurrences to Ground Zero.

More information on Historical Health Effects of Stachybotrys on this link: The picture shows Stachybotrys mold growing in and on drywall. Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University.

Learn all about the medical health effects of Stachybotrys and the medical treatment of Stachybotrys-caused health problems by reading the Mold Health Guide.

[Stachybotrys California]

Stachybotrys Report

Macroscopic Features

Stachybotrys produces cottony, rapidly growing colonies which mature in about 4 days. From both front and reverse, the color of the colony is white initially and turns to black by aging.

Microscopic Features

Septate hyphae, conidiophores, phialides, and conidia are observed. The hyphae and the conidiophores appear hyaline initially and become darkly pigmented with age. The conidiophores which may be simple or branched, bear phialides at their apices. These phialides are hyaline or pigmented, cylindrical in shape, and have swollen upper portions. They form clusters of 3 to 10. The conidia (4.5 x 9 m) are oval, hyaline or pigmented, 1-celled, and in clusters.

Laboratory Precautions

No special precautions other than general laboratory precautions are required.


No data are available.

[Stachybotrys California]

The mycological information gathered and organized in this extensive research on the different Pathogenic Molds was  sourced out from the list of websites below: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

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