Fungi on Trees
Fungi on trees come in many forms ranging from harmless shelf mushrooms to harmful ones like Rhizosphaera Needle Cast. Harmful fungi can be dangerous to the extent of ultimately killing trees. They may also pose some threat to surrounding trees, surfaces or even human beings.
While most fungus that thrives on trees are harmless, eating some of them may be dangerous. Most of them cause what is known as white rot and others red rot. You may need some foraging experience to correctly identify edible mushrooms that grow on tree barks.
Curing a tree of fungus is relatively tricky, but you can do away with the fungi. This article explores fungi that thrive on trees, their effects, and what to do.
What Kind of Fungi Grows on Trees?
While some fungi growing on the bark of trees have stems, others do not have them. Most bark mushrooms are in the form of conk or what is commonly called shelf or a bract. But how do trees get fungi in the first place?
Sadly, fungal spores are always around the trees. It is usually a matter of time before they begin developing on the bark of trees. You cannot prevent your trees from interacting with spores.
The spores are usually transported by wind, contaminated gardening tools, and splashed up onto trees by rain. Human and animal movements may also help in transporting the spores. For example, the spores may stick on your clothes or animal furs and later be deposited in a new area.
As mentioned earlier, edible and inedible fungi grow on the bark of trees. Most of the edible fungi growing on barks of trees are called magic mushrooms, although it is a broad term. Others call them bark mushrooms; it depends on which one you prefer.
Most of the inedible mushrooms growing in the bark of trees are tough, stringy, and toxic. However, there are edible ones that taste nice. Oyster mushrooms readily available in supermarkets and supplement shops are an excellent example of delicious ones. A significant problem experienced is on how to properly identify the edible mushrooms.
If you intend to move around in search of edible bark mushrooms, be sure to identify them correctly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of look-alikes that confuse people when foraging for mushrooms.
How Do I Know That My Tree Has Fungus?
Healthy trees rarely have issues with fungus. According to the University of California, broken branches and bark injuries weaken trees exposing them to fungal attacks, especially by a fungus that feeds on dead wood.
According to the University of Florida, there are over 100,000 species of fungi, including mushrooms, mildews, and molds. Of all that, only about eight percent are harmful or cause diseases. Although it looks small, eight percent of 100,000 is not a small number.
You can identify fungus on trees through physical examination. Check the tree barks and branches for any signs of decay. Fungi are classified into two broad taxonomies; ascomycetes and basidiomycetes.
Basidiomycetes look like tiny threads under tree barks, and they produce fruiting bodies. On the other hand, Ascomycetes invade the trunk, causing heartwood decay.
Regularly examine the trees by checking various parts for specific signs. Different types of fungi affect unique parts of the tree.
For example, Xylaria polymorpha, Grifola frondosa, and Armillaria species mainly affect the butt and roots of a tree.
Others like Polyporus squamosus, Pleurotus ostreatus, and Phellinus igniarius affect the stem and trunk of a tree.
Ascomycetes fungi can either be white or brown rot depending on where they attack. White rot usually attacks glue binding wood fiber. The glue is commonly called lignin.
On the other hand, brown rot attacks cellulose, wood fiber, weakening the tree to the extent of making it fall.
Lichens should not be confused with fungi because they don’t rely on other plants for food. Although they have symbiotic behaviors, lichens only rely on different plants since they can make their food.
Is Fungus Bad for Trees?
Fungi are associated with more than 85% of diseases that plants face. Unlike green plants that make their food through photosynthesis, fungi acquire nutrients through other means. They rely on other plants for their survival by absorbing nutrients from them.
As aforementioned, some fungi are harmful while others are harmless. Some harmful fungi that may harm trees include root rot, heart rot, butt rot, oak wilt, sooty mold, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew disease, and more. With these harmful fungi around, how are trees going to survive?
Fungal diseases can be dangerous to the extent of breaking down the structure of a tree. If the infection spreads into the leaves, the plant may have difficulties making its food through photosynthesis.
Fortunately, fungal diseases that affect trees cannot be easily transmitted to human beings, but you need to be careful. Fungal infections may hurt human beings when parts of the trees begin to fall. People are advised to avoid walking or sheltering under trees that look like they have fungal infections.
Is There a Remedy for Tree Fungus?
With all these things that fungi may cause, is there a remedy? Yes, there are remedies for tree fungi. After identifying fungi on your trees, there are several considerations on what to do next. One of the effective remedies that come into the mind of many people is getting rid of them. Getting rid of tree fungi has been discussed extensively in this article.
However, that is not usually the solution because we already said there are harmless fungi that you don’t need to worry about. Among the remedies, fungicides may be included though they pose a threat to the ecosystem. Fungicides are classified as pollutants.
If you are not sure of what to do, it is best to seek professional assistance. For example, when you spot strange infections on trees and look like fungal diseases, you can consult an expert. Better still, you can try the natural ways of dealing with fungi infections, as discussed below.
How Do You Get Rid of Fungus on Trees?
Prevention is always better than cure. So it is better to try and prevent your trees from fungal infections rather than trying to solve a problem that already exists. Fixing a problem should come into play when prevention fails and the plants get infected. Here we will cover prevention measures and what to do if your trees get an infection.
One of the most significant ways to prevent your trees from infections is by ensuring they get all the essential needs. The vital conditions include sufficient sunlight, enough amount of water or moisture, and adequate nourishment.
Ensure that the soil drains appropriately to avoid water logging that may rot your roots. Stagnant water also acts as a breeding area for disease-causing vectors.
If you irrigate the plants, avoid overwatering them. In case of too much rain, make trenches to ensure all the water flows away.
Cleaning and sanitizing garden tools may prevent the transmission of diseases. Yes, gardening tools may transmit an infection from one tree to another. If possible, sanitize the tools between use on different trees.
Remove fallen leaves regularly because they may also transmit fungal infections. Contaminating the soil exposes trees to diseases and leaves falling into the ground may contaminate it.
Fungicides are an option when everything else fails. Otherwise, if possible, avoid the use of fungicides because they cause effects on the ecosystem.
If you suspect a fungal infection, the first step is conducting a free tree inspection. The inspection helps to determine the extent of the disease. After inspection, the severity of the infection dictates the best solution.
Fungal infections in advanced stages are irreversible, and the best way out is to replace the tree with a new one. But if an inspection shows that the plant can thrive in many years to come, there are two options.
The first option is pruning the tree to remove the infected areas. This method is primarily applicable when the branches are the ones affected. It is almost impossible to prune when the infection is on the stem.
The second option is to build on the general health of the tree. This enables the plant system to get strong and fight the infection. Plants have a system similar to the immune system in human beings.
Trees are like human beings because they can protect themselves from infections. When the trees are kept healthy, their system becomes strong enough against even the deadliest diseases. All trees require maintenance to remain healthy and protect themselves.
As mentioned earlier, ensure that the roots of your trees have enough moisture, nourishment, and enough sunlight. Since healthy trees are not regularly prone to infections, you don’t need to worry about the spores invading them.
When it comes to edible fungi, you need to be extra careful to avoid landing on look-alikes. Consuming poisonous fungi may result in death. That should, however, not arouse any fear.