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Decay Fungi On Tree


All decay fungi should be considered potentially dangerous.  There are hundreds of different types. Some are more aggressive than others, causing trees to be vulnerable. If you notice mushrooms on your trees have them inspected.

There are two major types decay: 

Saprophyte: a plant, fungus, or microorganism that lives on dead or decaying organic matter 

Parasite: an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.

Dr. Christopher Luley from The Urban Foresty Diagnostics is an expert on decay fungi and their effects on trees.  He refers to the ones listed below as “The Big Four” because they are the most common and potentially dangerous.

Decay Fungi - Ganoderma applanatum

Ganoderma applanatum

Common name; artist conk Common hosts; maples, oaks most hardwoods Found on the but or base of living and dead trees Fruiting time; perennial and can live up to five years Type of decay; white rot, but and trunk rot Mode of action; An aggressive decay fungus that decays heartwood and can kill and decay sap wood.

Decay Fungi - Ganoderma lucidum

Ganoderma lucidum

Common name reishi, ling chi Common hosts; oaks, maples, locust and other hard woods Found on the trunk or roots of living trees Fruiting appears in the summer but will persist Type of decay; white rot and but rot Mode of Action; moderately fast root rot and but rot. The fungus can also kill cambium tissue and cause root death Edible with medicinal properties.

Decay Fungi - Armillaria spp
Decay Fungi - Armillaria spp 2

Armillaria spp.

Common name; shoestring root rot Common hosts; oaks, maples and most hardwoods Mushrooms are found on the ground around trees and roots Fruit appears in the summer and early fall. The mushrooms will not persist Type of decay: white rot and but rot Mode of action; Armillaria can kill the cambium of roots and buts of weak trees and acts as a moderately fast root and rot decay.

Some of these are subtle and hard to spot and some are obvious. That’s why we always recommend having your trees inspected to make sure they are healthy and safe.

Decay Fungi - Kretzchmaria deusta
Decay Fungi - Kretzchmaria deusta 2

Kretzchmaria deusta

Formerly called Ustulina deusta Common hosts; hackberry, linden and hardwoods Found on the base of buts and roots Fruiting appears year-round. Crusty black or gray Soft brittle rot and brown rot. Similar to brown rot because it makes the wood brittle Mode of action; but rot that decays the bottom stem until the tree eventually falls.

If you’d like more information about Decay Fungi, how they can damage your trees, and what you can do to protect your plants, click here to download Dr. Chris Luley’s Presentation on Decay Fungi.

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