Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 29, 2011

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Large oak with possible Laetiporus fungus
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have a huge oak tree in front of our new house. After the first rain this fall a large fungal growth appeared in an old knothole of the tree and I would guess that it is Laetiporus. A neighborhood street was cut just outside of the tree drip line in the last 7-10 years. Construction traffic also recently occurred on the lot, but again outside of the tree's drip line as we fenced off this tree and were very careful of it. Other than that, the tree appears to be very healthy. We watered it some toward the end of this summer, but even without that it looked the healthiest of all the trees throughout this drought. Should we treat the tree in some way to kill this fungus?

ANSWER:

The University of California Davis Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has an article, Wood Decay Fungi in Landscape Trees, that describes (with photos of the fruiting bodies) several types of fungi that grow in and on trees.  If your tree really does have the Laetiporus sp., the conks (fruiting bodies) showing on the outside of the tree indicate that there is probably extensive internal damage and that the fungus mycelia have been growing inside for many years.  As Michael Kuo says about Laetiporus sulphureus (The Chicken of the Woods):

"The mushrooms do not appear until well after the fungus has attacked the tree; by the time the chickens appear, they are definitely coming home to roost, as far as the tree's health is concerned."

And, from Disease Recommendations for Trees and Shrubs from the University of Michigan Extension Service:

"Fungus invades the roots, trunk and butt of tree through wounds causing a brown cubical rot. First evidence may be the production of a fleshy, yellow shelf fungus on the trunk. However, presence of the fungus suggests considerable rot within and possibility of a hazard tree should be investigated."

It seems that your best bet would be to contact a professional arborist to assess the extent of the internal damage and what the risk is that your tree could fall.   An arborist could also tell you whether there is an effective treatment to save the tree.  To find a professional arborist, you can search on the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) site; International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) site and/or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).

 

 

More Trees Questions

Trees for property in Nevada
April 06, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants: I would like to plant trees in between Crepe Myrtles than put up a fence along the paved road. The temperature ranges from 27'F to 130'F. It is a full sun all day and I will i...
view the full question and answer

Searching for an Escarpment Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) for sale
October 16, 2007 - I am trying to find an Escarpment Black Cherry Tree for planting in my yard. Do you know of anyone that carries this particular type of tree?
view the full question and answer

Trees with white blossoms in Crockett, Texas
March 21, 2015 - What are the trees that are blooming just East of Crockett Texas (off of Hwy 21) right now - fairly large trees - multitude of white blooms - almost like a wild plum or pear, but tree seems too large?...
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

Looking for a tree to plant as a memorial in Leesburg, GA.
September 09, 2010 - I'm looking for tree to plant as memorial to my brother who died. It must be native, for South Georgia, zone 8, open fields. It should provide mast for wildlife. Heat zone 8, good drought-tolerance. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.