Bracket (or shelf) fungi are wood-decaying fungi mostly found on the trunk at the base or on stumps of living trees.
A member of the mushroom family these fungi have many pores lined with spore-producing cells called basidia, instead of the usual gills that you will see on a mushroom. Unlike the mushrooms you see in the healthy undergrowth feeding of dead and decaying organic matter, a bracket fungus invades living trees.
Anyone who has come across fungi like this and has touched or tried to remove it will they can be spongey or really hard. In fact, it has been known to be carved into jewellery and other works of art.
If you find bracket fungi on a tree it’s likely to have been at work inside the tree for a number of years before it has developed enough energy to create a fungal bracket or the fruiting body.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT MY TREE?
The root system of the fungi, called the mycelium, travels through the wood via the vertical vascular system, breaking down fibres and causing them to rot.
The fungi will attack the heartwood of a living tree and create rot considerable distances above and below the fungi itself. Over time your tree will then begin to hollow. This can affect the structural integrity of the tree itself and you may find yourself with a tree that needs substantial reduction or removal.
Despite this, not all is necessarily lost. We always recommended that you consult a qualified and experienced arborist to assess the tree to confirm if it’s a case of removing the tree or simply weight reducing the limbs that are considered a danger and keeping the tree.
After all, a tree with some internal damage but deemed low risk to a person or property might just be a home for wildlife for many years to come.
CAN I GET RID OF THE FUNGUS AND SAVE THE TREE?
The short answer is NO.
There is no known way to stop the process of the growing fungi. As we mentioned, by the time you know the fungi is even present it is likely to have been at play inside the tree for years beforehand.
Even if you remove the external fruiting bracket the spores are still present inside the tree it will continue to decompose. Next to that weight reduction pruning on infected branches can dramatically reduce the load on weak spots. Beyond that, there is nothing to be done to remove it.
As always a professional arborist is the best person to provide the right advice. Prevention is always the best course of action to minimise the chances of infection.
HOW CAN I PREVENT THEM?
Pathogenic fungi can only enter a tree via a wound (e.g. a fresh pruning wound and insect scars). So, keeping your trees as healthy as possible is the best line of defence against bracket fungi.
A healthy tree might be able to fight pathogenic fungi on its own which will reduce the spread of decay as well as keeping the fungi at bay by making sure the environment is not ideal for spores to lay claim to the tree.
Keep your tree healthy by avoiding a wet base. Also, remember to hydrate appropriately in dry periods. Mulch the base and plant trees in places that suit the conditions.
If you notice bracket fungi growing give Tree Amigos a call and we can talk about your options.
On a final note, It’s never fun to lose a tree, especially one that provides a home or shade. However, like all things in life, it’s a stark reminder of the natural life cycle of nature and that they do serve a purpose.
We’d love to hear any questions about your trees. Come and join the discussion over on our Facebook page
At Tree Amigos Victoria we pride ourselves on quality work and excellent service. Our consistent outstanding customer reviews are a testament to that.
For more information on Tree Amigos Victoria and the services we provide in and around Melbourne please visit our website at www.treeamigosvictoria.com.au