of Mushrooms, Toadstools and Brackets:
Fungi live in close association with trees as co-evolutionary organisms and are an essential part of the ecosystem in which trees grow. There are a diverse range of fungi that rely on trees, while on the other hand trees depend on a close association with fungi to improve their ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Some fungi live within the dead wood around the crown of trees, while others gain entry to the dysfunctional wood within the centre of the trunk, limbs and branches. Other fungi can survive in the living sap-wood of trees, waiting for suitable conditions to develop, in which they can grow.
Only a small proportion of the fungi that associate with trees are actually pathogens, which over a period of time can bring about tree death. Most either form mutually beneficial relationships or just live off the dead, and dysfunctional wood around the tree. It is therefore important that the arborist has a good knowledge of fungi, and is able to identify those that are likely to be a problem to trees.
Fungal fruiting bodies can appear in all shapes and sizes depending on the species and it’s adaptations to a particular growing environment. If a Mushroom, Toadstool or Bracket is seen growing out the side of a tree, or close to it’s roots, it should be identified by an arboricultural consultant. Once the species of fungus has been identified it will give the consultant a better understanding of the implications for the trees future life expectancy and whether there is likely to be any decay which could reduce the trees structural stability.
The presence of decay in trees is a natural part of their ecology and does not mean that they are diseased or necessarily in a dangerous condition. In some instances it is thought that the decay of tree trunks and branches can make them more resistant to storm damage. Where the creation of a hollow tube can be structurally more tolerant of the lateral forces exerted by wind.
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