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No Fun in Palm Tree Fungi: Why Your Palm Tree Is Rotting

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Has your palm tree begun to deteriorate? Are its leaves or trunk showing signs of rot? If so, your palm tree may have fallen victim to a fungal disease.

In Australia, there are several species of fungus that can attack and eventually kill palm trees. The worst three of those offenders will be covered in this article along with ways that you can avoid spreading a fungal disease.

Palm Tree Fusarium Wilt

This fungal disease is one of the most damaging fungal diseases because there is currently no cure for it. Fusarium wilt attacks the xylem (the water channel that is responsible for distributing water throughout the tree) of a palm tree.

Since an affected tree can no longer efficiently distribute water, the tree's older palm fronds will begin to die first, followed by the newer leaves in the centre of the tree. An affected tree could die within months and leave behind fusarium spores that will infect any other palm planted in the area.

Thielaviopsis Trunk Rot

This species of fungus affects the trunk of palm trees. The full name of this fungal strain is Thielaviopsis paradoxa. Unlike other fungal diseases, which have clearly visible symptoms, thielaviopsis trunk rot is difficult to spot. Unless spotted early, the only indication that a palm tree is infected will be when its trunk or canopy completely collapses.

Fortunately, thielaviopsis fungal spores tend to attack injuries in a palm tree's bark, meaning that you can avoid infection if you spot injuries early enough. Moreover, you can also remove infected sections of trunk, which will be softer than unaffected areas, and spray the exposed trunk with fungicide to kill off any remaining infection.

Ganoderma Zonatum

This species of fungus exists all over the world and assists nature in the natural decomposition of organic matter such as dead wood. Ganoderma begins as airborne spores released from the underside of brackets or conks—white, disc-shaped mushrooms that grow on the bark of affected trees.

These spores invade wounds in the bark or roots of palm trees, and then the tree begins to rot from the ground up. In the early stages of this disease, you may notice dieback of the palm fronds. Once advanced, conks will begin to appear on the bark of the affected tree. There is no cure for ganoderma; thus, complete removal is the most effective treatment.

If your palm has a fungal disease, there is a risk that the disease may spread to other trees in the area via the soil. In order to prevent its spread, it may be best to contact a palm tree removalist who can remove the tree and the entire root ball. Furthermore, do not plant a replacement tree in the same spot as fungal diseases such as fusarium wilt can survive in soil for many years.