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Posted on October 30th, 2023 in Alert, Disease, Forestry, Plants, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »
declining tree

Figure 1: Mature oak tree known to be infected by Inonotus dryadeus on Purdue University West Lafayette campus. Right image shows limb death suggestive of tree decline.

Purdue Landscape Report: Inonotus dryadeus is one of the more common wood decay fungi we receive at the diagnostic lab in association with declining trees, specifically oaks. Inonotus is found so frequently on oaks it has the common name oak bracket fungus, but it can cause root rot of a number of other hardwood trees (including maples, sweet gum, buckeyes, chestnut, and ash) and conifers (fir, pines, spruce, and hemlock – mostly in western US).

Similar to other butt and root rots of trees, Inonotus causes internal decay near the base of the tree. Trees may not show any external symptoms while there is a raging root rot decaying everything holding it up, eventually leading to an unexpected failure of the tree during a windstorm. Trees with compromised root systems may also die suddenly during hot and dry weather. Most often, we see a gradual decline of infected trees with stunted growth, limb dieback, and/or sparse, off-color foliage; symptoms that may accelerate during adverse environmental conditions (Figure 1).

The only good thing about this fungus is that it is somewhat easy to identify. Inonotus produces a round to irregularly-shaped conk like structure each year from colonized host tissue, such as exposed roots, the trunk at the soil-line, or lower trunk (Figure 2). When it is young the conk is yellow to orange on the upper surface and white on the underside. Pores in the upper surface of the conk producing amber colored liquid can also be found earlier in the spring and early summer, lending to its other common name the weeping conk (Figure 3).

growth at base of tree

Figure 2: Extensive growth of Inonotus dryadeus from the base of an oak tree. The tree had significant limb dieback, was at risk of falling over, and subsequently removed.

early growth with amber liquid

Figure 3. Inonotus conks with amber droplets on their upper surface.

To view this full article and other Purdue Landscape Report articles, please visit Purdue Landscape Report.

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Root Rot in Landscape Plants, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Dead Man’s Fingers, Purdue Landscape Report
ID That Tree Fall Color: Sugar Maple, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Black Gum, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
An Introduction to Trees of Indiana, The Education Store
Autumn Highlights Tour – South Campus, Purdue Arboretum Explorer
Subscribe, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Tree Defect Identification, The Education Store
Tree Wound and Healing, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – FNR
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store
Ask an Expert: Tree Selection and Planting, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube playlist
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube playlist
Invasive Species, Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Channel
Report Invasive Species, Purdue Invasive Species
Find an Arborist, International Society of Arboriculture

John Bonkowski, Plant Disease Diagnostician
Departments of Botany & Plant Pathology

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