A Comprehensive Guide on How to Identify and Treat Common Tree Fungus

For many homeowners, trees are some of their most prized possessions. Besides providing shade in hot summer, they also improve the yard’s aesthetics and boost curb appeal, raising the property’s value. This is why tree fungus can be a sore topic for most tree owners.

Whenever you notice a fungus infection on your trees, it is natural to want to jump into action to stop the spread. Before doing so, it is always advisable to take time and learn about the types of fungus infections that affect trees, to be able to pick an ideal way of riding your trees off the infection. In this article, you will find a comprehensive breakdown of the most common tree fungus, methods of identifying them, and the best ways to treat them.

Related Guide: How and When to Trim Palm Trees in Florida

Yellow fungus

Also commonly referred to as sulfur fungus, the yellow fungus is one of the most common tree fungi and quite hard to miss. You have probably come across this fungus and maybe even know its nutrition benefits to humans. While it is the ‘chicken of the woods’ for humans, it is harmful to trees as it causes internal rot.  

How to identify: this fungus comes in a yellowish to orange color and commonly grows along the trunk of a tree.

How to treat: the best way to treat yellow fungus is to prevent it from growing in the first place. This can be done by remaining cautious when pruning your tree branches. Working with a certified tree trimming service can go a long way in ensuring the proper trimming of your trees.

During trimming, the branches should be cut at a 45-degree angle as this helps prevent water collection along the trunk, which creates an ideal breeding ground for this fungus. As a fungus that thrives on tree wounds, it is advisable only to prune your trees when completely necessary.

Anthracnose fungus

Often referred to as leaf blight, this is a type of fungal infection that affects the leaves of a tree and can sometimes spread to the stem. Unfortunately, there is little that you can do as a homeowner to stop the development of this fungus infection.

How to identify: Anthracnose is characterized by blotches on the leaves. These are black marks on the leaves that are typically easy to notice. This fungus commonly affects maple, walnut, oaks, sycamore, and dogwood trees.

How to treat: since it is hard to prevent this fungus from growing on a tree, the best way to treat it is by stopping the spread once you notice an infection. You can control the spread of Anthracnose by pruning the infected leaves and branches, a common tree care practice. You can also find an ideal fungicide. With fungicide, ensure you use it sparingly as too much of it can harm your trees and other living things near your tree.

Needle blight

If you grow a pine tree on your property in Tallahassee, Florida, this is the most common fungal infection to look out for. This fungus typically grows inside the needles of the pine, causing them to die. When left untreated, needle blights eventually spread to the rest of the tree and kill it. However, it is important to note that not all needle blights cause severe tree infections. (Source)

How to identify: it is common for people to confuse this fungus infection with a common infection caused by the pine needle scale insect. Needle blight fungus is characterized by reddish-brown spots on the green needles of the pine tree. With time, it causes the entire needle to turn brown as the infection spreads.

How to treat: the best way to treat this fungus infection is by using a fungicide at the onset of spring and repeating it in late spring and early summer.  

Canker Diseases

This is a collective term that describes tree diseases that are caused by fungal pathogens. These pathogens take advantage of tree wounds to get into the bark of the tree, where they cause the growth of canker disease. Once in the tree, the fungus blocks the tree’s vascular system, making it hard for it to circulate essential nutrients, which causes the branches to die. If not handled in the early stages, canker diseases can lead to the death of the entire tree.

How to identify: you can identify a canker infection by looking for dead parts of a tree. This is usually common along the bark and branches.

How to treat: the best way to deal with canker diseases is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can be done by ensuring your trees grow in the best space and remain free from injury. If you notice an infection, you should immediately remove branches with canker signs.

You should also consider hiring a professional arborist to assess the extent of the damage and determine how much of the tree is already infected. They are best placed to offer solid advice on caring for an infected tree and whether an emergency tree removal service is needed in the case of severe infection.

Tar spots

This is a common fungus infection that mostly affects sycamore and maple trees. Even though they are unattractive, they pose no serious danger to the tree’s overall health.

How to identify: tar spots manifest as dark spots and blemished on the leaves of a tree. The blemishes usually start to grow around late spring and early summer. Since this characteristic is common with other serious tree fungi, you can consult with a tree expert to determine what kind of infection it is.

How to treat: copper-based fungicides can help treat tar spots, even though it is completely unnecessary since this is not a dangerous infection. Also, this fungicide can harm other life forms in your yard.

Shoot fungus

This is a common type of fungus that occurs in trees and creates spots on tree leaves. As the name indicates, this fungus spreads by shooting its spores into the air. The wind carries the pores that stick anywhere on other plants or even the sides of the house.

How to identify: shoot fungus occurs as dark spots on outdoor spaces, including plants and trees. Once it infects the leaf of a tree, it causes the development of dark blotches on the surface.

How to treat: This fungus can best be treated using copper-bases fungicide.

Sooty mold

This type of fungus causes a soot-like substance to develop on the leaves. Even so, this is not categorized as a tree disease since the fungus occurs naturally in honeydew secretion from insects. Therefore, it does not penetrate the tree.

How to identify: this fungus will leave an ash-like black coating on the leaves that may feel sticky to touch since it is an insect secretion.

How to treat: You do not have to worry about soot mold since it does not threaten the tree’s health. However, if you prefer not to have an unsightly appearance on your trees, you can find a way to drive away the insects secreting the honeydew. This can be achieved by regularly praying the leaves with water to eliminate insects.

Powdery mildew

This is a common fungus found in humid environments, especially greenhouses. The white mold infection causes yellowing and browning of tree leaves, which can, in rare cases, cause the death of a tree.

How to identify: you can easily spot powdery mildew since it appears as powdery spots on leaves, resembling grey talcum powder.

How to treat: the best way to get rid of powdery mildew is by use of sulfur-based fungicides. Tree pruning to remove all infected leaves is also an ideal way of ensuring the fungus infection does not spread.

Root rot

This is one of the most severe infections on trees. It can be caused by overwatering, which leads to root suffocation, eventually killing the tree. Root rot quickly spreads to healthy roots and causes root decay, eventually killing the whole tree if it goes untreated. Root rot can also be caused by a naturally occurring fungus in the soil. This fungus is activated by overwatering, creating the perfect breeding ground for fungus.

How to identify: the most common telltale sign of root rot is premature yellowing of the leaves. You can also tell if there is root rot if a tree shows stagnated growth and canopy thinning.

How to treat: dig around the root to expose the roots ball and use a hose to rinse the fungus growth. You can also trim off infected roots and use a fungicide to kill the fungus. If the rot is too extensive, you may need to cut off the dead tree and consider professional tree stump grinding to ensure the infection does not spread to the other plants in your compound.

 There you have it! Everything you need to know about common tree fungus infections. With this guide, you are better placed to keep your trees healthy and fungus infection-free.

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