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Old 02-18-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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Default Mushrooms Growing Around Oak Tree - A Bad Sign?

Ooh, hopefully you smart folks can help me sort out this potential problem. Is my oak tree doomed? Last summer, around the end of June, some spectacular mushrooms grew around the base of our largest oak tree. As far as I am able to tell, the mushroom just might be chicken of the woods. Which, if I were confident in my mushroom-identifying abilities (which I'm not) would be tasty, but might also be a sign that our tree is rotting at the roots and beyond saving.

Here are some photos of the fruiting body of the mushroom. It continued to get wider and thinner over the next week or so, up to and beyond the width of a big dinner plate.

Other info: the previous autumn, I had removed a great deal of poison ivy from this location. And a pine tree grows a few feet away, so the ground here is carpeted in needles.

I would regard this as just a curiosity if it weren't for the fact that if this tree topples, it could do serious damage to our house. I would be devastated if we had to cut it down, but if it is doomed, I want to make sure it comes down safely.

Thanks.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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Question
We have a small stand of birch trees. Trees are approx. 40-50 years old. Lately, we have noticed white fungus or mushrooms growing on the trunk and a few areas of upper branches. I've been told that the mushrooms indicate that the tree is dying and that they are feeding on the dead wood. What can you suggest? Must we cut down the tree?


Answer
The are then fruiting bodies of decay fungi. It means the tree more than likely is hollow or at least has decay in the woody part. The living layer of cells in a tree are just under the bark called the cambium layer. The woody part is dead cells and if there is a wound fungi can get into the wood and start the decay process. It does not mean the tree is dying. As long as the foliage looks green and healthy the tree is OK. The woody part give the tree strength and if the tree becomes hollow it could break during a strong wind storm. I would not cut the trees. They can live being hollow and grow just fine. If you start to see large limbs break off and they become a hazard to people or buildings then you might think about replace the ones that are breaking up. Keep an eye on the foliage and if it starts to thin out and die back this would be signs of health problems for the tree.


================================================== ==


Trees - mushroom growth on pecan tree trunk

Expert: Jim Hyland - 9/16/2008

Question
I have a problem with a very large pecan tree. apparently a limb had been cut by a previous owner and we noticed "holes" that were multiplying in that area. We covered the area with tar. The holes have "re-appeared" and now there is a mushroom growing out of one of them. I hate to cut the tree down. It is so beautiful. Is there hope to save it? I was thinking of "cementing" the hole. What do you think?




Answer
The mushroom is the fruiting body of a decay fungi that has entered the wound where the branch was cut. Decay fungi will grow in the woody part of the enter trunk. These are dead cells and their being decayed will not cause any problem with the health of the tree. The decay fungi will not infect the living cells which are just under the bark. If the tree looks healthy and the foliage is full and green there is no reason to cut the tree. The worst thing that could happen would be the tree would lose strength in the trunk. The tree will become hollow over time. IF large limbs start to break off during high wind storms that also show signs of being hollow then you might start to become concerned about the hazard of the tree breaking off and falling on something.BUT this will or could be many many years from now.

Filling of hollow trees, a process called "cavity filling," was practiced by arborists for many years. Thanks to modern research, it has been discovered that cavity filling is not needed to support or improve the health of hollow trees. Tree experts have found that cavity filling with cement can actually damage a hollow tree. The column of cement created in the tree by a cavity fill doesn’t move, just like a column on a building, but the tree is always moving. It sways with the wind constantly. The rubbing created by the swaying tree and the solid column of cement further damages the tree.

Decay organisms, such as rot fungi, that created the hollow in the first place are able to take advantage of the new injuries created by the rubbing and invade the healthy tissue of the tree. If that wasn’t bad enough, the cement holds moisture, creating a favorable environment in the filled cavity for the decay organisms! Tree experts explain that it is much the same as when carpenters place a vapor barrier between a house’s foundation and the wooden sills. If they put the sills directly on the concrete foundation, the wood will rot rapidly. If you place cement in a tree cavity, it will speed the wood decay! If cavity filling is desired for aesthetic reasons, there are some new synthetic foams that can be sprayed into the cavity by professional arborists. These materials will bend with the swaying tree. There is really no reason to fill a cavity; it doesn’t improve the tree’s health and doesn’t offer any added support.


Instead I would fertilize the tree once a year with 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 lb per inch of trunk diameter scattered around the tree and watered in good. This will help the overall health of the tree.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:44 PM   #3
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Thanks Lonediver. I'm concerned that if the roots are damaged, the tree could go over in a wind storm - onto our house.

The mushrooms aren't growing out of the trunk, but are instead growing out of the soil in an arc around the trunk.

I may go post my questions over in the forum you linked to in a bit. Thanks.
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:15 PM   #4
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If you ever dug up a tree's roots ( I have ) look at my thread Dead wood plantings ;

Dead wood plantings .

Most trees root systems such as the one that I moved in the first posts of that thread are so pervasive that the surface roots are but a portion . If you look at the base of the tree as I was excavating it and after removal prior to replanting it you will see MANY roots going in every direction . In that case every root was very laboriously cut individually . Being as I wished to take the tree down in one piece , it was very time consuming .

It was an Ironwood , a very heavy, dense hardwood here much as your oak . I would not be too worried about your mushrooms . If edible , harvest and eat them . If you wish I will be glad to give you the links where the quotes were taken from .
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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Lonediver, the reason I ask is that most chicken-of-the-woods resources say things like this:

Quote:
If you're only interested in Laetiporus as a forest or urban tree pathogen, it's also important to know whether the roots or the butt of the tree are affected. Both species cause a brown rot, and both are common reasons that trees fall over or break in the wind.
From http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jul2001.html
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:18 PM   #6
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Here's another one, from http://www.mushroomexpert.com/laetip...ulphureus.html

Quote:
Laetiporus sulphurues causes a reddish brown cubical heart rot, with thin areas of white mycelium visible in the cracks of the wood. 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.
So, I do need to know whether this is chicken of the woods or not. Trees do have a tendency to fall over around here, eventually!
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:21 PM   #7
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Argh! I should stop reading this stuff. It is making me worry about my house.

From "Common Tree Diseases of British Columbia": http://www.pfc.forestry.ca/diseases/.../heart8_e.html

Quote:
Damage: Fruiting bodies are often not formed until years after the fungus is well established, so when present, they indicate significant internal defect. The rot is generally restricted to the butt log. When present in recreation sites, infected trees should be considered hazardous and should be removed.
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:58 PM   #8
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It would seem that different fungi produce different problems . I suppose that is why experts are needed . Your indentification of laetiporus led to sites where it spoke of laetiporus causing "root plate failure " . or your brown rot which turns wood brittle .

http://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/TDBCS...CBUT&ExtID=DOC

http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyr...ttachment3.pdf

Looks like you should hire a local expert to apraise the individual situation .


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Old 02-18-2009, 03:26 PM   #9
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Yeah. . . so how does one go about finding a local expert on tree-killing mushrooms??
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Looks an awful lot like Laetiporus sulphureus. Find a shroom site and send in your photo to get a professional id. I'd leave the tree be for now.
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