While root rot is more common in houseplants and shrubs, it can also affect your trees. When the roots and soil around the tree become infected, usually by the fungus Basidiomycota, action needs to be taken.
Here’s how Root Rot works:
- First, similar to how humans get infections, a tree receives a wound, making it vulnerable to infection.
- Next, the fungus enters the open wound and attacks the cambium layer, which resides between the bark and the wood.
- When the cambium collar that surrounds the roots becomes infected, nutrients and water are blocked from entering the roots.
- Once enough of the roots are infected, this malabsorption can cause serious problems for your tree.
Here’s what to look for when checking for Root Rot:
- A wooded area infected with root rot will often be infected from a central point and spread out in a circular pattern
- Trees with root rot will suffer from wilting or dying foliage, stunted growth, and pale or yellow leaves (chlorosis).
- The lower trunks of hardwood trees like oak, birch, or elm may also begin to rot, known as dieback.
What to do if you notice Root Rot:
- If caught before the tree is too far gone, you can have the infected tree removed. This is important, because if left to decay, the infected tree can become a host for other fungi, such as mushrooms. The mushroom spores can then become airborne and infect surrounding soil. In general, diligence and early tree removal is your best defense.