Armillaria Root Rot Of Trees
Gary W. Moorman, Professor of Plant Pathology
Armillaria root rot, sometimes called shoestring root rot, is caused by various species of the fungus Armillaria . Susceptible plants include most deciduous and coniferous species. Plants most susceptible to Armillaria root rot are those under stress from prolonged drought, repeated insect defoliation, root injury, or recent transplanting.
LIFE HISTORY: Armillaria survives well in dead roots and stumps and in the soil as long, brown, shoestring-like structures. These rhizomorphs (root-like structures) can grow for several feet through soil from stumps to nearby trees and from tree to tree. This is very unusual for a fungus since most fungi remain relatively dormant in soil unless a host plant is very near. The rhizomorph invades a tree at the buttress or upper part of the root system. Just under the bark, obvious white fans of fungal growth form. A honey-brown colored mushroom develops in the autumn on the roots or buttress of infected trees. The spores liberated from the mushroom are windblown to other areas.
Top growth of the infected tree slows, branch dieback occurs, and roots rot. Trees may appear to die quickly. White fans of fungal growth are found when bark is peeled off infected trunks near the soil line. Conifers have abundant resin flow from the trunk at the soil line.
Encourage Good Tree Vigor By Reducing Stress Including:
- Control insects that cause defoliation.
- Irrigate to relieve drought.
- Protect plants against injuries to the lower trunk and upper portion of the root system.
- Do not replace an Armillaria-killed plant with another woody species.
Mycelial fan of Armillaria
Rhizomorphs of Armillaria
Armillaria fruiting structures (mushrooms).
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research and extension programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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