Beach Palm Trees Endangered By The Deadly Ganoderma Zonatum
By Anne McKay Garris
One of the things learned at the first Clearwater Beach Library program on Florida Gardens, Thursday, was that there is, on Clearwater Beach, a deadly palm fungus. Called Ganoderma Butt Rot, the fungus attacks the lower part of a palm tree and destroys it from the root up.
The evidence of this problem is something that looks like a large and ugly mushroom clinging to the bottom of the palm, called a "conk". This conk originates from fungal growth already inside the palm. It begins as a solid white mass that is relatively soft when touched, but it grows into a distinct shelf-like structure that is quite hard, with a glazed reddish-brown top surface and a white undersurface, in a half moon shaped, attached to the trunk. Unfortunately, the disease is spread by spores from the conk and each conk can produce 3 cups of spores, ready to be spread by the wind in all directions. Although the first symptom is usually a wilting of the leaves, this is unreliable evidence as other diseases can cause wilting.
Evidence provided at the meeting, Thursday, indicates that Ganoderma attacks only palm trees. There is no cure, or prevention for the problem and the best you can do with affected trees is to have an expert remove, not only the whole tree but as much of the root system as possible. The debris from the removal should not be put on the trash pile, as that would spread the disease elsewhere. It should be removed and discarded by a professional. Furthermore, it is unwise to plant another palm in the same location since the spores often remain in the soil.
Just this first of the monthly meetings at the library about growing things in Florida soil has proved it is good to hear directly from the experts They can tell us things we need to know about our yards and gardens as well as answer questions we have that are specific to our area.
Return to Current Edition