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There is a tree in my backyard near my house that has some kind of fungus growing on it; do I need to be concerned?

Answer

What you see on your tree is called "Bracket" or "Shelf" fungus (for obvious reasons). Unfortunately, when you see this growing on your trees, a significant amount of damage has already occurred to the tree and there is nothing you can do about it.

Bracket fungus will exist in a tree long before the actual brackets or shelves appear – these are actually the fruiting bodies of the fungus. The fungus attacks the hardwood interior and causes structural damage in the tree. Generally, the fungus shows up in old, weak trees. Even strong trees can be attacked, though strong trees have a natural chemical defense system that will compartmentalize the fungus and prolong the life of the tree. Once the fungus is present, there is nothing that can be done. Removing the brackets from the tree will do no good. If you apply tree wound paint, you will do more harm than good.

Bracket fungus has been around forever. Most are inedible and some are poisonous. Incredibly, there are reports of a single bracket fungus that weighed over 300lbs and some that were 3 feet wide! Basically, when you see bracket fungus, it is part of Mother Nature's process to decay trees and return them to the soil so others can grow. You do need to be vigilant, however, if this fungus is on a tree near your house (or anywhere else that is dangerous if the tree falls) the tree is in a weakened state and is a risk. Call us right away; one of our arborists can come out for an inspection and give you an estimate for removal.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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