Mushrooms growing out of the base of palm trees are caused by Ganoderma zonatum, or Ganoderma butt rot fungus, a fungal disease that only affects palms. There is no cure for this palm disease, and infected trees need to be removed.
How Does Ganoderma Butt Rot Kill Palms?
Ganoderma zonatum is a soil-borne fungus that enters the trees through the roots. It kills by destroying the lignin in the bottom few feet of the trunk. Lignin is an organic polymer that basically holds the fibers and tissues of a tree together and gives them rigidity. Ganoderma isn't a soft rot, so the trunk will remain hard. As the fungus spreads, it destroys the ability of the tree to carry food and water inside the palm, slowly starving it to death. There are many ganoderma fungi, but this is the only one that exclusively infects palms.
What Are the Symptoms of Ganoderma Butt Rot?
The symptoms of palm butt rot are the same as the symptoms of many other palm diseases, so diagnosis cannot be positively made until the fungal conch, or mushroom, emerges from the trunk. If the tree falls or is cut down, you will be able to see the brown inner core of the trunk to make a diagnosis. Not all palms will grow a conch, but mild to severe wilting and general decline are two early signs.
Why Should Ganoderma Butt Rot Infected Palms Be Removed?
The main reason to remove a palm infected with Ganoderma butt rot is for safety. These are the first trees that will fall in a strong storm, such as a hurricane, and large palms can do considerable damage to your home or property. The second reason is that ganoderma spreads by spores and can infect other palms on surrounding property. If you have palms growing in a group, and one has this disease, it's best to have them all removed as a precaution.
Can You Replant in the Place Where the Palm was Removed?
Ganoderma zonatum only affects palms, and there is strong evidence that another palm planted in the same place will also become infected by fungal spores living in the soil. Since this particular fungus affects only palms, it is safe to plant another type of tree in that spot, but best to dig out and replace as much of the soil as possible first.
Removing a palm infected by Ganoderma butt rot fungus is a job best left to professionals. Don't wait until a storm or strong wind blows your palm over onto your house. Call your local tree removal company, like Arborcare Tree Service, to ensure a safe removal.