Identification: Pin Oak Fungus - I need help!

Discussion in 'Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds' started by asuperstar103, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. asuperstar103

    asuperstar103 Member

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    Hi everyone, I am very thankful I found this forum. I have been reading up on some of this stuff since yesterday evening trying to determine my problem, but I get more worried as I look because I see nothing that resembles what my pin oak has growing around the base of it. :-/

    I need to take a couple pics and post, but I thought I would go ahead and ask. I have two huge pin oaks in my front yard. One is fine, the other has this hard white/brown fungus of some sort growing around the base of it. I noticed this a couple weeks ago and it is now growing and spreading around the entire base of the tree. It's nothing like I have seen, it is nothing like mushrooms, although I do have some mushrooms growing in my front yard. These trees are big and create a lot of shades, I think this is the reason for the mushrooms growing. It takes a while for the ground to dry and we have been having major storms and heavy downpours here for almost a month. I am in parkersburg, WV. This, what I assume is fungus, is like a glob growing on top of the ground at the base of the tree, it's not growing on the tree, its growing on the ground. Its white/brown almost an awful looking yellow color. My husband probed at it with a tree limb and it has a hard shell, he could not get the stick to puncture it. It's disgusting and I'm afraid it's going to kill the tree. Has anyone ever seen anything like this. I will get some pics ASAP and add, does anyone have any suggestions without pictures?? Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Frog

    Frog Rising Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It sounds like a polypore fungus (a group often known for hard "mushrooms"). There are polypores called "trunk rot" or "butt rot" , named for where they are typically found on a tree.
    The body of the fungus would be inside your tree, what you are seeing is just the "fruit" of the fungus.

    Some wood decay fungi grow more slowly than others, some can inhabit a tree for many decades before contributing to the demise fo the tree. Determining which species this is should help you to find out how long your tree will live. Forestry websites sometimes have this kind of info.

    I don't have Oak trees in my area, so I'm sorry don't have a guess on this one.
     
  3. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    But wait, do we know this is necessarily harming the tree? Healthy soil is chock-full of fungi, and many fungi grow in mutually beneficial partnership with plants. Among other things, fungi break down dead organic matter, and they help plant roots absorb water and fight off hostile microorganisms.

    I guess we're all agreed that the first task is to identify the critter here, but I definitely wouldn't assume that it is hostile. It might be an encouraging indication of the health of the soil.

    Or not.
     
  4. asuperstar103

    asuperstar103 Member

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    Thank you for your feedback, in the next couple of days I will get photos. It's the weirdest thing, now that it has rained today it is a dark brown and has grown just since yesterday. It's disgusting! lol

    And another thing, why have we seen no pics on here that look anything like it??
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2009
  5. Frog

    Frog Rising Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I agree with you kaspian that there are tons of fungi in mutually symbiotic or otherwise beneficial relationships - actually I'm a big fan of fungi, including those that consume trees or other lifeforms to survive. (heck I eat things too...)
    A photo of asuperstar103's tree and fungus will be good to see in hopes of being able to identify it.

    What I am picturing from asuperstar103's description of a very large hard fruiting body at the tree base, is something along the lines of Heterobasidion annosum
    (some photos are here: http://www.pfc.forestry.ca/diseases/CTD/Group/Root/root3_e.html
    ).
    All the hard fruiting bodies found on wood which I have encountered so far in life, have been wood decay fungi of some sort. The few mycorrhizal fungi, or fungi that eat something other than wood, that i have found fruiting on wood (eg B. mirabilis) have had fleshy fruiting bodies ... and a good alibi :-).

    So, given that diagnosis, I'm hoping for asuperstar103's case that this turns out to be one of the very slow growing fungi.

    I notice generally that polypores with perennial fruiting bodies don't attract the kind of interest and attention as the fungi that fruit more temporarily. Even when we make diligent fungi lists on forays, we sometimes forget to list the polypores that are around so much they fade into the background, like Fomitopsis pinicola (Red Belt) and Ganoderma applanatum (Artists' conk). I've not yet seen anyone in the forum ask about Heterobasidion, Fomes, Phellinus, Phaeolus or those wierd huge flat parchment-like growths either. Maybe a polyporoid subforum? :-)

    cheers,
    frog
     
  6. asuperstar103

    asuperstar103 Member

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    Pics attached.
     

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  7. tipularia

    tipularia Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Looks like a slime mold. Maybe Fuligo.
     
  8. asuperstar103

    asuperstar103 Member

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    What should I do to get rid of it?
     
  9. Frog

    Frog Rising Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If it is hard, then it is not Fuligo.
     
  10. tipularia

    tipularia Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I don't know if it is a slime mold, but a slime mold plasmodium can form a hard inactive mass called a sclerotium.
     
  11. Frog

    Frog Rising Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thank you tipularia - that'll teach me to stay away from making sweeping statements :-)

    I've seen fungal sclerotia, very rarely, but I did not know that slime moulds formed these! Are they genuinely hard?

    The specimen in the photo still looks fungal to me though; also I'm curious about the reddish exudate.

    cheers,
    frog
     
  12. asuperstar103

    asuperstar103 Member

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    Has anyone ever had this same problem? Any feedback on how to get rid of it?
     
  13. Frog

    Frog Rising Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If it is a slime mould, then it is likely harmless/beneficial, but if it is a polypore growing on your tree then it is probably harmful to your tree in the short or long term.
    I'm sorry I don't know of a safe way to eliminate either organism, especially if the latter because, if true, the organism itself is within the host your tree.
    I'm still hopeful that someone in the forum can ID this, so that a better answer to your questions can come.
     
  14. Michael Kuo

    Michael Kuo Active Member

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    It looks like a polypore to me, rather than a slime. Probably quite tough. It has yet to develop a "cap," despite its huge size. Some polypores are parasitic on the host (the tree); others are benign. However, if it IS a parasite, the damage is already done, asuperstar103, and there's no way to save the tree. You are looking at the reproductive structure (the mushroom) rather than the "real" organism, the mycelium, which has already eaten the wood--again, IF it's a parasite.
    Best wishes, Michael
     
  15. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    So here's the thing, asuperstar: We still don't know that this organism is doing anything bad to your tree. The fact that you find it unpleasant to look at does not mean it isn't playing some useful role in the micro-habitat of your yard.

    In general, biological diversity is a thing to be welcomed in a garden. That doesn't mean there are no nasty little creatures out there who want to attack and destroy your cherished plants -- so we have to deal with things on an individual-case basis. But there's really no need to assume that anything unfamiliar or even downright bizarre is an enemy that must be eliminated.

    It's frustrating that we still don't know exactly what this fungus(?) is and what, if anything, it's doing with your oak tree.
     
  16. miss_myxomycete

    miss_myxomycete Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi, I just posted on another thread in this forum about Fuligo septica slime mould with this good link : http://waynesword.palomar.edu/slime1.htm
    It has some good photos of the mature aethalium stage which has a crusty shell, and the aethalium stage which has red droplets like in your pictures. But I know there are fungi which exude red droplets too...
     
  17. C.Wick

    C.Wick Active Member

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    have you been able to cut or knock a chunk off to see the underside? if it's a type of polypore u'll see the typical texture that they have....i've never seen any slime moulds with 'pores' on the underside....
     
  18. Gunnur

    Gunnur Member

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    I was wondedring if anyone ever IDed this fungus/mold. This is exactly what has attacked the base of my Pin Oak. Is it treatable or likely a complete base rot? It is currently around half of the base.
     
  19. C.Wick

    C.Wick Active Member

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    Can you get us images to help verify?
    I don't think we ever confirmed if that posting was for a fungus or a slime mold.
    If it's the slime...it isn't harmful to your tree...if it is a fungus? It just depends on the species it is.
     
  20. Gunnur

    Gunnur Member

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    My pictures would be exactly like the ones posted above. They body of the fungus is hard and has turned darker over the fall.

    Could the fungus be Inonotus Dryadeus? I have spent a ton of time searching various sites for pics and it appears this is closest to my fungus. Looks like the tree will need to come down.
    Another species looked similar but was classified as a giant (meripilus giganteus).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2009

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