En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Possible fungal infection of oak trees in Mastic Beach, NY.

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 19, 2012

From: Mastic Beach, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Possible fungal infection of oak trees in Mastic Beach, NY.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Sir, I have a yard full of HUGE Oaks. The one in question is about 80' tall 48" in diameter at the base. They are all well maintained fed and trimed and elevated every 3 or 4 years. About 4 years ago I noticed dense white growths comming up around the tree. They are in the 12" to 24" radius range around the tree. Its white mushroom in color but extremely dense. they only show up from june to september they grow rapidly. I must remove them with a sharp knife. I go down about 3" below grade, cut a circle and pop it out. few days later i must do it again. The tree is healthy. to the point where i had an arborist do a core sample for ants. Its solid straight through, no decay. But he has no idea what they are. Your thoughts? I have no issue maintaining the growth, but it makes my lawn look like crap around this 1 tree. I have contemplated roto-tilling a 24" path around the tree and planting flowers. That's my last resort. Also, the roots are deep there is no root damage, i thought it may be trying to repair itself. They just seem to make the earth extremely hard around this one tree, and grow out of this real hard cement like dirt. I'm clueless. help!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty plants hasn’t personally witnessed the phenomenon that you are describing, but it sounds like a fungus in the order Polysporales. These are commonly called polypore mushrooms and include the bracket fungi or shelf fungi which often grow on tree trunks, but can grow on the ground if  there is a food source, possibly the roots of your oak trees. Since your arborist didn’t know what they are, I may be completely off base.

This website from mushroomexpert.com has descriptions of numerous species of polypores along with photos. Two possibilities for you situation are Grifola and Laetiporus which are known as “Hen of the Woods” and “Chicken of the woods” respectively. (see also) This implies to me that they may be good to eat.

You need to have someone who is knowledgeable about fungi (a Mycologist) take a look at your situation and make recommendations. You might find such a person at the Suffolk County office of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Another possibility could be to contact the Cornell Mushroom Club . Those students might jump at the chance to make a field trip down to the “big city” to take a look at your oaks.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Chlorotic disease in scrub oak from Katy TX
July 04, 2013 - Please tell me how to treat my scrub oak as it has chlorotic disease. Parts of the tree are fine and others have yellow leaves. It has not been injured in any way.
view the full question and answer

Brown patches on St. Augustine grass
April 24, 2009 - I have brown patches on my st. augustine grass, it looks like the grass has rotted from standing water, but the drainage is not a problem, What could it be?
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on Mexican Plum in Salado, TX.
July 24, 2013 - I do live in Cental Texas (Salado) and I have the same problem with my Mexican Plum as the lady in Bellaire, TX. Mine was planted in June in a raised bed and receives sun all day long. Within the la...
view the full question and answer

Mystery pest eating portulaca blooms
July 02, 2006 - I'm from Texas and I purchased some portulaca from a local nursery about three weeks ago and planted them in the front yard....with plenty of sun. Here's the problem. The foliage seems very health...
view the full question and answer

Something killing evergreens on Long Island from Baldwin NY
June 06, 2011 - What seems to be killing so many of the evergreens on Long Island - see more and more dying each day - doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason - can it be helped? Many thanks.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center