HAVE a nice ornamental spring-flowering tree which I think may be
some sort of plum, although it doesn't bear fruit. It has pink flowers
and reddish coloured leaves. About half a metre up from the base
it had a fungus growing from the trunk, like a little shelf sticking
out. I removed the fungus but the next year it did the same thing.
I now notice there are two dead branches on that side of the tree.
Should I cut them off, even though it will make the tree lopsided?
Will the tree recover and can I do anything to stop the fungus returning?
tree is almost certainly a species of Prunus which includes
plums, apricots and cherries of which there are several ornamental
flowering varieties. It sounds like it is infected with a fungal
disease that has spread into the trunk and branches. The shelf-like
fungus you removed is the fruiting body of the fungus (like a mushroom)
and the rest of the fungus will be growing inside the woody parts
of the tree. The dead branches are a sign the tree is gradually
succumbing to the disease and I'm afraid there's very little you
can do to save it once the disease has reached this stage.
However, it may hang
on for years yet, so to try to keep it going you could remove the
dead wood by cutting back to healthy tissue, which should be fresh
and white looking - stained dark or brown is a sign of the disease.
Spray the tree thoroughly in winter a couple of times with a copper-based
fungicide and in summer try to provide ideal growing conditions
by watering and fertilising if necessary and controlling any other
pests and diseases that may also take advantage of its weakened
Otherwise, to save yourself
trouble, cut the tree right out and replace it with another spring
flowering tree unrelated to Prunus, like the Judas tree, Cercis
Gardener, Issue 200, 2006, Page 39
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.