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Mr. Smarty Plants - Bracket fungus on live oaks

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Thursday - October 04, 2007

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Bracket fungus on live oaks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Cedar Park and the house we just bought has 4 native live oaks growing in the front yard. On two of the live oaks there are bracket fungi growing at their base. Each tree just produced two new brackets in the past two weeks. I was told that bracket fungus can eventually kill a tree and that they should be cut down eventually. My questions are: Is this that serious and can it spread to my other oaks and how quickly can it cause the trees to decline. Also how do live oaks get this pathogen and is there anything I can do to prevent it. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

ANSWER:

Indeed, some bracket fungi can be harmful to your trees. The bracket part on the outside is the fruiting body that will produce spores to form other fungi. Its presence indicates that the vegetative part of the fungus, called the mycelium, consisting of interconnected thread-like structures, is living inside the tree. The mycelium invades the tree where it absorbs part of the tree's nutrients and can also alter the internal architecture of the tree. The tree could eventually be killed by the spread of the mycelium inside it. Although healthy trees can usually resist the fungus, it can enter the tree through pruniing wounds or other injuries. You can read more about the parasitic bracket fungus in Wood Decay Fungi on Living Trees from the University of Massachusetts.

As Mr. Smarty Plants sees it, you need to identify the fungus on your tree and determine whether it is an agressive parasitic bracket fungus. You will also want to learn the best way to remove the fruiting body to keep spores from finding a place in other trees and to find out if there is a way to kill the mycelium growing inside the tree. In order to do this Mr. SP suggests you contact one (or all) of the following:

1. The Texas Forest Service. They also have an Ask the Experts page.

2. The Williamson County Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service

3. A professional arborist. You can find individuals who have earned the right to be called professional arborists by searching on the web sites of the following organizations:

Tree Care Industry Association, American Society of Consulting Arborists and International Society of Arboriculture .

 


 

 

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