Knowledgebase
Honey Fungus
Posted by Dobies Staff on 17 November 2014 01:03 PM

Honey Fungus usually develops in the first instance on old dead stumps, roots or decaying posts, and can live saprophytically in the soil. It spreads by means of underground black stringy growths, sometimes known as 'bootlaces', and if these come in contact with living tree roots, the fungus attacks the tree and grows up beneath the bark, weakening and finally killing the tree. Wet conditions favour the disease, mainly by weakening the root system of the host plants. Honey-coloured toadstools usually growing in clumps, appear at the base of a dying tree at any time between July and December but often disappear with the commencement of frosts in autumn. Many coniferous trees are susceptible, and old broad leaf woodland is the natural habitat of the fungus. Cultivated ornamental and fruit trees, however, are also attacked once the disease gets into the soil. Plants that are very susceptible include apple, birch, cedar, cotoneaster, cypress, forsythia, hydrangea, lilac, pine, rhododendron, roses, walnut and wisteria.

The early symptoms, which can spread quickly, are the dying back of leafy branches or sometimes the failure of leaves to emerge in spring. The bark at the base of the trunk dies and underneath a creamy white mycelium can be found which has a strong mushroom smell. The ‘bootlaces’ can often be found in the soil around the infected area and resin may be seen oozing from the base of the stem.

Infection by root contact can occur and the fungus may then attack shrubs and herbaceous plants and even spread to heathers, strawberries and potatoes in the vicinity.

When clearing the ground, it is very important that all root particles, however small, are carefully removed, as any remaining could cause re-infestation. Do not replant a woody plant in the same spot for at least a year. There are no chemicals currently available for the control of the Honey Fungus.

Plants that show a good degree of resistance and likely to succeed in infected soil include abutilon, bamboo, beech, box, chaenomeles, clematis, eleagnus, hawthorn, holly, ivy, laurel, oak, pieris, pittosporum, sumachs, tamarisk and yew. These plants should not be planted within a year of removal of an infected plant.

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