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Bracket fungi cause decay and rot in the heartwood of trees and produce bracket-shaped fruiting bodies on the trunk or main branches. These fungi usually lead to weakening and sometimes to the eventual breakage or fall of affected trees.
Bracket fungi. Credit: RHS, Horticultural Science
Brackets are the fruiting structures of many different fungi that cause heartwood decay in standing trees. The fungal bodies or brackets appear in spring, summer and autumn, but weakened trees can topple at any time. Note that there are other fungi which also cause decay that are not bracket fungi.
There are many different types of bracket fungi, many which are specific to a particular host and often of little importance in gardens. Important ones that commonly cause significant damage to garden trees include:
Although there are many different bracket fungi, they all cause similar symptoms, as mentioned below.
Some of the symptoms you may see:
Gardeners are legally responsible for their trees and may be liable for prosecution if damage or injury results from falling timber. For assessments of tree health, advice on suitable consultants and contractors contact:
The Arboricultural Association
Tel. 01242 522152
For identification of decay fungi, contact;
Tree Health Diagnostic & Advisory Service
Alice Holt Lodge
or, for those living north of a line drawn from the Mersey to the Humber:
Northern Research Station
(£48 per specimen)
RHS Gardening Advice
(free, but RHS members only)
There are no chemicals for control of bracket fungi.
The brackets release huge quantities of wind-blown spores, which germinate on wounded wood and penetrate into the heartwood where the fungus forms an expanding pocket of rot. Any pruning that exposes heartwood will increase the likelihood of infection. Most of the fungi described as ‘brackets’ only live on and decay the heartwood, they do not infect and kill the living parts of the tree.
Honey fungus, a destructive pathogen as well as a decay fungus, is not a bracket fungus.
Disposing of diseased material
Why has my tree or shrub died?
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