Fungal Heart Rot: A Guide For Tree Care

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Your trees could be harboring a deadly and dangerous secret – heart rot. This condition mainly affects hardwood trees, like oaks, maples, and walnut, so softer conifer trees are usually safe. The main issue with heart rot is that it weakens trunks and branches as the interior wood dies. The following guide can help you better understand heart rot so you can recognize it and act appropriately.

What causes heart rot?

Heart rot is caused by a fungal infestation. The spores typically find their way into the tree via cracks in the bark or other external damage, such as insect bore holes. Once entrenched in the tree, the fungus begins to grow and feed on the wood. It makes its way into the no longer active heartwood that lies at the center of the trunk or large branches to continue feeding and growing.

Which trees are most susceptible?

No tree is safe, although some trees are more likely to fall victim to the fungus. Generally, trees that are already suffering stress will be the first to contract the condition. Making sure your landscape trees are watered and fertilized appropriately, along with treating them for any insect infestations or other health stresses promptly, can help prevent heart rot. Older trees are more susceptible, so they will require close care to ensure they remain healthy.

Are there any symptoms of heart rot?

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot fungal heart rot initially, since the tree usually remains healthy appearing on the exterior. Check your trees regularly for signs of damage. If you see a hole or crack in the trunk or in a branch, you may be able to peer inside with the aid of a flashlight to spot the damage. Another sign of rot is if fungal fruiting bodies, called conks, begin forming on the trunk. These resemble small shelves.

How can you treat heart rot?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for heart rot. If you suspect a branch is affected by heart rot, then have it removed where it connects to the main tree to help prevent the fungus from spreading to the main trunk. If the trunk is affected, you will need to have the tree removed. Heart rot weakens a tree from the inside, which means it can easily fall during a storm. The safest option is to remove the tree, rather than wait for it to die completely. Contact a business, such as Kramer Landscaping Co for more information.