En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - January 20, 2008

From: Billings, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Trees
Title: Possible fungus growing on mountain ash (Sorbus sp. or Fraxinus sp.)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a mountain ash with something growing several feet off the ground that looks like duckbills or mushrooms. Can you tell me what is wrong with it. We lost one mountain ash tree to something and now this one has developed these growths.

ANSWER:

There are two shrubs/small trees called mountain ash that are native to Montana, Sorbus scopulina (Greene's mountain ash) and Sorbus sitchensis (western mountain ash). Since neither of these grows to be a very large tree, it occurs to me that you may have Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash) which also grows in Montana. Whichever it is, it sounds as if your ash tree has been infected by a fungus.

The Pacific Northwest Fungi Database from Washington State University has a list of fungi that affect Sorbus species and Fraxinus species. Many of the fungi cause leaf spotting and cankers. The ones that produce fruiting bodies like those you describe generally indicate that the tree is extensively affected by heart rot. You can read about heart rot in Deciduous Tree Diseases from North Dakota State University (NDSU) Agricultural Extension site. See also the description of "heart rot" under NDSU Parasitic Diseases of Specific Trees for ash trees (Fraxinus spp.).

Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment to cure heart rot in trees. Prevention is the best defense. You can read discussions of treatment and prevention of heart rot and decay from the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Department of Plant Pathology says that by the time the fruiting bodies appear the damage to the tree is likely to be extensive. The tree may survive for many years after infection but its structural integrity could be questionable. Your best bet is to have a professional arborist check to see that is sound and, if not, have it removed. You can find a list of professional arborists near you by searching the Referral Directory of the American Society of Consulting Arborists. You might also get a recommendation for an arborist from your County Agricultural Agent. Visit the Montana State University Agricultural Extension web site to find the office closest to you.

Below are some of the fungi associated with Sorbus spp. and Fraxinus spp. that may be indicators of heart rot. Perhaps you will recognize the one that you have seen on your tree.

Fomes fraxinophila (synonym=Perennipiporia fraxinophila)

Fomes igniarius and other Fomes spp.

Polyporous sulphureus

Eutypella sorbi

Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma tsugae, Gandoderma applanatum and other Ganoderma species

Piptoporus betulinus

Fomitopsis pinicola

 


Sorbus scopulina

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

 

 

More Trees Questions

Understory trees for large trees in Austin
October 18, 2010 - I'm blessed with some beautiful large live oaks, burr oaks, and cedar elms in my front yard in southwest Austin. I'd like to plant some understory trees among them. The trees would get dappled lig...
view the full question and answer

Fall Planting Colorado Blue Spruce in Indiana.
October 15, 2009 - I live in Northern Indiana, and I want to plant a couple of Colorado Blue Spruces that are 3-6 feet in height and Balled and Burlapped. Is it okay to plant them this time of year?
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for NY
February 26, 2012 - I am looking for a native evergreen shrub that could be used as a hedge or privacy screen on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens county. It is a beach community with sand soil ( except where it has been...
view the full question and answer

Unusual green fruit
August 17, 2009 - Unknown "fruit" in my backyard I have large (softball size) nobbly green orbs finding their way into my backyard. They sort of look like a tennis ball left out in the rain to rot, but they are o...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center