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Why Are Mushrooms on My Trees?

Why Are Mushrooms on My Trees?

Discover the truth about the mushrooms and fungal growth you find on your trees, whether they are harmful, and what you can do to protect your trees from further damage.

Identifying Fungal Growths on Trees

Fungi that grow on trees in Rochester, New York, can take various forms, such as mushrooms, conks, shelf fungi, and bracket fungi. They are often found on the trunk, branches, and base of living trees. While some fungi resemble the mushrooms we consume, others can be hard, tough, and inedible.

Common Fungi Found on Trees in Rochester, New York

There are several fungi species commonly found on trees in Rochester, New York, including:

  1. Ganoderma species
    Most common: Ganoderma applanatum (Artist’s Conk)
    Appearance: Brown or gray, flat, shelf-like top, and white underside
    Host Trees: Beech, Elm, Maple, Oak
    Effects: Causes wood rot in living trees, leading to yellowing, wilting leaves, and branch dieback
  2. Trametes versicolor
    Common name: Turkey Tail
    Appearance: Ruffled edges and colors resembling turkey feathers
    Host Trees: Hardwood trees
    Effects: Causes internal rot, destroying a tree’s structural soundness
  3. Armillaria Root Rot Complex
    Common name: Root rot
    Appearance: Light golden brown with a white ring on their stem, smaller than conks
    Host Trees: Various hardwood and coniferous trees, especially oaks and maples
    Effects: Causes root rot, leading to stunted leaf growth, chlorotic leaves, canopy dieback, and sap flow at the base of the tree
  4. Fomes fomentarius
    Common name: Hoof fungus
    Appearance: Gray to black, horse hoof-shaped brackets with wavy edges
    Host Trees: Beech, Maple, Birch, Oak
    Effects: Causes white rot, breaking down lignin and making wood soft and spongy
  5. Laetiporus sulphureus
    Common name: Chicken-of-the-woods
    Appearance: Fan-shaped, bright yellow clusters
    Host Trees: Living and dead oak trees
    Effects: Causes brown rot in a tree’s heartwood
  6. Laetiporus cincinnatus
    Common name: Chicken-of-the-woods (root rot variety)
    Appearance: Pale yellow or pink, rosette-shaped
    Host Trees: Base of a tree’s trunk or in the ground close to the trunk
    Effects: Causes root rot

Pro Tip: Always consult with an expert before consuming any wild mushrooms. Many people fall ill or die from ingesting foraged mushrooms due to incorrect identification.

Why Do Fungi Grow on Trees?

Fungi reach trees through various means, such as:

  1. Fungal spores carried by wind, water, or animals
  2. Spreading through tree roots that intertwine with nearby trees
  3. Entering trees through grafts or carried by insect pests

Fungal spores that land on a tree’s trunk or branch must find a wound or opening in the tree’s bark to infect and decay wood tissue.

Are Fungi on Trees Harmful?

Fungi play a vital role in nature by decomposing decaying matter and cycling nutrients through soil. However, some fungi can cause decay in living trees, leading to their decline and eventual death. Signs of fungal damage include:

  • General lack of vigor
  • Insect infestation
  • Leaf damage or dieback
  • Broken or dropped branches

Fungal growths on a tree’s trunk, base, or surrounding ground often indicate that the fungi have already spread throughout the tree’s structure, causing internal decay.

What to Do if You Find Fungi on Your Trees

Simply removing the visible mushrooms or conks will not solve the problem, as they are a symptom of decay rather than the cause. Prevention is the best approach to avoid fungal decay, which involves keeping your trees healthy from the start.

Factors that can make your tree vulnerable to destructive fungi and other diseases include heat stress, water stress, and nutrient deficiencies. Improper pruning can also create openings for insects and diseases to attack your trees. Always have a qualified professional prune your trees and perform regular inspections and evaluations, especially for large, mature trees.

How Tree Service Rochester NY Can Help

If you notice mushrooms or conks growing on your trees, contact Tree Service Rochester NY immediately. A dying or decaying tree poses a hazard, as it can drop branches or fall over without warning, even if it appears healthy from the outside.

Sometimes, tree removal is the only option to prevent damage. Our trained arborists can examine your trees and evaluate the overall health of your landscape. If any trees are at risk of developing fungal problems, we will inform you and recommend the best course of action. To prevent mushrooms from damaging your trees, consider our comprehensive Tree Health Management services, designed to maintain the health of your trees and landscape year-round. We would be happy to provide you with an estimate.

If you want to read more, check out our tree mulching guide.

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