When you think of tree diseases, images of spotted and dead leaves may come to mind. These are the most common signs of tree diseases like anthracnose and bacterial leaf spot. However, another type of tree disease cause less-obvious symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Root rot diseases are a threat to many trees. Root rot often causes serious tree damage or death before tree owners are aware a problem exists. Keep reading to learn more about root rot diseases and ways to protect your trees.
What Are Root Rot Diseases?
Root rot disease is a general term for a disease that causes a plant's root tissue to rot and decay. Several different species of fungi can cause root rot in trees. Some affect multiple tree species, while others only affect certain kinds of trees.
Phytophthora root rot, for example, is caused by a species of fungi called Phytophthora and is quite common in oak and dogwood trees. Another disease, ganoderma root rot, is caused by the fungus Ganoderma lucidum and primarily affects maples, oaks, and honey locusts. Regardless of the species of fungus at fault, root rot diseases all cause similar symptoms and have similar risk factors.
How Do Root Rot Diseases Affect Trees?
Your tree's roots may be below ground, but the tree depends on them to obtain water and nutrients. If the root tissue begins to rot and fungi invade it, the root tissue can no longer do its job. Eventually, the health of the entire tree will be compromised, as the branches and leaves will no longer have the nutrients and water they need.
Root rot diseases often claim a tree's life within months or years. A tree badly affected by root rot disease is a threat even before the tree is completely dead since the damaged roots impede its stability. Heavy winds or a big storm may knock the weakened tree over.
What Are the Signs of Root Rot Disease?
If you watch your tree carefully, you can spot signs of root rot disease before the leaves start dying. If you identify the disease early, you may be able to have a tree care expert administer fungicides to eliminate the disease or keep it from spreading. Signs of root rot disease include:
- The appearance of mushroom-like bodies on the exposed roots and lower trunk
- Brown discoloration of the wood when you lift away bark at the soil line
- Cankers on the exposed roots and lower trunk of the tree
Symptoms vary somewhat, depending on the species of tree and the type of fungus at fault. If you notice anything suspicious about the roots and lower trunk of your tree, contact a tree care company promptly.
How Can You Prevent Root Rot Diseases?
The fungi that cause root rot diseases typically spread from tree to tree through the soil. You can't do much to keep the fungi from spreading, but you can increase your trees' vigor and make the trees less prone to infection.
Avoid overwatering your trees. Moist soil encourages the fungi to replicate. Use caution when trimming around your trees to avoid nicking any exposed roots, as the fungi often first invade damaged tissue. Also, trim your trees regularly. If you mulch around your trees, be careful not to spread mulch directly against the trunk or exposed roots, as this encourages rot.
Do not let your tree fall victim to a root rot disease. If your tree has suspicious symptoms or you would like help keeping it in good health, contact Community Tree Service, Inc., to schedule an appointment or ask questions.