Fungi have a very close relationship with plants, and in many cases this is beneficial. Eighty percent of all plant species would not be able to function properly without a symbiotic relationships with fungi in the soil. In some cases however, especially when the tree is weakened by other factors, fungi can play a very damaging role indeed.
Fungal fruiting bodies on and around stem and roots Fungal fruiting bodies on and around stem and roots - Piptoporus
Fungi found growing on the stem or branches or from around the base of the tree or its roots is always a cause for concern. Whilst in some cases such fungi are completely innocuous, living harnless on the bark, or perhaps on part of the tree which is already dead; in some cases the fungus is actively killing the tree by digesting it from the inside. Once enough of the tree has been digested from the inside, the tree is at serious risk of toppling in the wind. Sadly there is little we can do for trees once they have been colonised by serious decay fungi, although alleviating any other problems may help to prevent the infection getting worse. Equally, reducing the canopy will reduce the tree’s wind profile thus also reducing the stresses place on the tree in bad weather. Most importantly of all, the tree needs to be monitored and periodically inspected for signs that the infection is reaching its dangerous stages. In some cases, due to the potential for damage to people and property, the only option can be removal.
Fungal fruiting bodies on and around stem and rootsFungal fruiting bodies on and around stem and roots - White rot
Proper identification of the fungal species in question is essential in ascertaining how severe the decay is likely to be, and in planning what course of action to take. This is done by inspection of the ‘fruiting bodies’ which are the reproductive organs of the fungus – the actual damaging part of the organism is within the tree, so destruction of the fruiting bodies is unproductive. Special instruments can also be used to electronically measure the progress of the decay, so a very accurate diagnosis can be made.