The arrival of spring brings new sprouts, not just on your tree but around it, too. One non-plant sprout is the mushroom, and these fun guys tend to grow around large foliage. For foragers, tree bases are ideal spots for finding tasty morsels like morels, but if you spot mushrooms around your trees, don’t take it as a good sign. When should you monitor the spring mushroom growth near your trees?
When Mushrooms Around Your Tree Is A Bad Sign
First, the bad news: mushrooms growing immediately on or at the base of a tree can be evidence that it is deteriorating. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that grow up through the ground after one or more fungi begin feeding on fibrous tissue. Mushrooms generally limit their food to dead organic matter like rotten wood. Their dietary needs are a necessary part of forest ecosystems, as they breakdown wood and return vital nutrients to the soil.
When you see mushrooms growing on a living tree, what you’re seeing is a warning sign that there is dead tissue under the surface. The pathogenic fungi attack weakened or damaged roots and can further break down the tree’s defenses. Because it spreads underground, specialists can’t easily treat it with fungicide.
One of the most common fungi is honey mushrooms; these point to a problem called armillaria root rot. Honey mushrooms are yellowish-brown mushrooms that grow in clusters at the base of your tree or around your tree’s roots. The fungal growths have a distinct white ring around their stems and flat tops when at their biggest. Once fungus that produces these mushrooms invades roots, it’s tough to control, which is why prevention is the best option.
When Mushrooms Growing Near Your Tree Aren’t Bad
While mushrooms can be a bad sign, it’s important to note that not all mushrooms are alike. The presence of some kinds of mushrooms doesn’t indicate that all is unsolvable – many fungi act as an early sign of a problem rather than a warning of a later stage issue. For instance, certain mushrooms grow after there has been superficial damage to the tree, like wounds caused by landscaping equipment.
Often, the best course of action is to remove and destroy infected plants to keep the fungus from harming other plants in your yard. If the infection is less severe, you can transplant the tree, but these are rare occasions – fungi often grow right on the roots, and honey mushroom is a highly destructive disease that can spread.
An arborist can tell the difference between a mushroom growth that poses no threat and one that’s a sign of more serious problems. If you see honey fungus, we might have to examine other plants or trees in the area, as it travels through the soil and could infest surrounding root systems.