Learning More About Oak-Root Fungus And Your Trees


Armillaria, commonly known as oak-tree fungus or shoestring root rot, is an incurable tree disease that seems to prefer wide-leafed hardwood trees like oaks. However, root rot has been found to infect conifer trees as well like spruces and firs. Learning more about how to identify oak-root fungus can help you prevent it from infecting your healthy trees.

Some Mushrooms Are Symptoms Of Oak-Root Fungus

During cooler, mild weather, the mushrooms associated with oak-root fungus begin to produce. You will see these types of mushrooms at the bases of the trees affected with oak-root fungus. Armillaria mushrooms are easy to tell from other, less harmful mushrooms because they grow in clusters, tightly woven together on the wood at the base of the tree. Armillaria mushrooms are yellowish-brown and their caps can grow up to six inches in diameter.

Detecting A Stealthy Fungus

If you find Armillaria mushrooms around any of the trees in your yard, checking to see if the roots have been infected is important. In trees with oak-fungus, long, stringy growths called rhizomorphs will be growing off the roots. Rhizomorphs resemble shoestrings. If a tree is infected badly, you should also see smaller leaves and more dead branches than you would normally see in a healthy tree. Leaves can also begin prematurely turning fall colors. The mushrooms themselves are only a symptom of a much more sinister fungi called mycelia, so simply destroying the mushrooms will not help stop the disease from progressing.

Saving Trees From An Incurable Disease

If a tree in your yard is suffering from oak-fungus and is posing an obvious danger of falling, you should take steps to have it removed as soon as possible. However, if you have a tree that is still strong, but suffering the first signs of oak-fungus, you can take steps to prolong its life while also preventing other trees in your landscape from getting it:

  • In spring time, remove the soil from around the entire tree, remaining inside the circumference of its crown. You can determine crown soil boundaries by estimating where the shade of the tree stops. Removing the soil down until you see the roots of the affected tree is best. If you find during soil removal that roots are infected in over half of the crown boundary, it is advised you have the tree completely removed. However, trees with less than half of its crown boundaries infected can be manageable by air drying the soil and maintaining proper fertilization. The key to managing root rot is minimizing the moisture that remains around infected roots.
  • Digging drainage wells around infected trees for exposing and drying out root systems can also help to manage oak-root fungus. Digging a circle around the tree deep enough to expose the roots can help to prevent too much moisture from collecting around the roots, a huge factor in preventing an environment suitable for fungal growth.

Managing tree diseases is comparable to managing a human disease like diabetes. If you manage diabetes, you can live for many years with it. If you do not manage diabetes, you could die prematurely. The same is true about oak-root disease in trees. By taking steps to manage your trees' affliction with fungi, you can look forward to enjoying them for many more years. If you suspect your tree has oak-root disease, consider contacting a professional like those at Robert Jefferies Logging & Tree Service for help.


5 December 2015

Improving The Look Of Our Trees

After we moved into our house, we knew that something had to be done about our trees. The branches looked off-kilter, and we could tell that someone had pruned them incorrectly at one time or another. Unfortunately, we weren't really sure how to repair the damage. A family friend talked with us about hiring a professional tree trimmer, and so we called them the next day. The difference that they made was astounding. They removed dead branches, trimmed up the shape, and let more sunlight through. My blog is all about improving the look of your trees by hiring a professional.