Why Are Brackets Growing From Your Trees?

Mushrooms are tasty on a salad or in a stew, but what if they start growing from your trees? The large, mushroom-like formations that may emerge from your tree's roots and lower trunk are actually known as brackets, and they are a sign of a fungal infection. Keep reading for a closer look at what the appearance of brackets means for the future of the trees -- and what you should do about the situation.

What kind of disease do brackets indicate?

There are a number of diseases that can cause brackets to form on a tree. They fall into two broad categories: root rot and butt rot diseases. Root rot diseases occur when the fungus invades the inner tissues of the roots. Butt rot occurs when the fungi primarily inhabit the inner tissues in the butt, which is the lower trunk of the tree where it meets the roots. Sometimes, a tree may have root and butt rot, which can cause brackets to emerge on both portions.

Different species of fungi cause root rot and butt rot in different varieties of trees. Armillaria root rot, for instance, affects hardwood and conifers. Phytophthora root rot affects ornamental trees, like crabapples.

Can you cure a tree with brackets?

Some of the root rot diseases that cause brackets to form on a tree are curable if you catch them early on. However, by the time brackets appear, the tree is in the advanced stages of illness, and there's typically nothing you can do to save it. Some root rot diseases will kill a tree within weeks or months once brackets appear. Others may take a few years to kill the tree. Regardless, the tree will eventually die.

What should you do for a tree with brackets?

Since the tree won't recover, your best bet is to have it removed. As the fungi continue to eat away at the tree's inner tissue, the tissue will become weaker and weaker, putting the tree at risk of falling over. This could prove a hazard to you and to your home. So, have the bracketed tree removed sooner rather than later.

When you have the tree removed, make sure your tree removal company also removes the stump. The stump will contain infectious fungi, and if left in place, it could spread the fungi to other nearby trees. Dispose of the stump and wood by burning it, or let the tree care company take it with them.