2nd opinion - fungus and risk assessment

ATH

Well-Known Member
Reviewed this Norway maple. Sent samples off for DNA analysis and it came back negative for Kretzschmaria which surprised me. I was ready to condemn the tree assuming it was...but that is why we tested it. The wood immediately under the bark where the fruiting bodies are is crumbly, but it turns to good solid wood about 1.5" in.

There is some hollow in there, but not throughout the cross section. Not enough that I am concerned about the extent of the decay in the trunk.

There are fruiting bodies on either side of the tree. At both of those locations, I can stick a 12" probe straight into the ground - so the roots are compromised right at the location of decay. Just to the side of those, that is not the case and the sound solid.

It has already been heavily reduced (years ago) on the east side - which is the direction of concern. It isn't that tall relative to the diameter, so I am not sure I'm convinced that it can be pruned well to extend its life significantly. It is not exactly a tree of any historic significance. My guess is it is about 50-60 years old along with the house.

Like I said...my initial thought was replacement because Kretzschmaria can be so sneaky and this is going to crush the neighbor's house if it fails. Now I am inclined to put it on an annual monitoring schedule to see how the decay progresses.

I know....not very much of the story in the few pictures I took...20180620_142312.jpg
20180620_142317.jpg
20180620_145330.jpg
20180620_145442.jpg

Appreciate any thoughts.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
I’m with JD, if it’s not then what the hell is it? Probe or resti or core the cavity little at a time to see the extent of decay? You used the adjective crumbly, not one I use when thinking of maple decay other than saprophytes.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
I sent it to Research Associates Laboratory. You pay them $20 and ask for a single DNA test. It could be like whackamole at that point I guess. I did put the resistograph in it. Will try to take pics of those strips later...
 

evo

Well-Known Member
What does the resistograph say? Perhaps a rcx. What’s the width of decay? Could always play the inconclusive card..
 
  • Like
Reactions: ATH

ATH

Well-Known Member
Inconclusive sounds about right. That is why I'm thinking annual reinspection. There is some hollow around the obvious decay pockets, but solid wood otherwise.
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
Clear the flare! Replace the soil around that sinus.

I would get the lab to recheck. Or you wasted $20.

Thank you for not condemning the tree. (That would have been most stupid, even with a Kd ID). But you need to sell some work to help it. 1 hour should do it; rcx +

It just blows my mind to see turf growing all over an infected trunk; and a qualified arborist not seeing a problem. We get such monomaniacal 'training" tunnelvisioned on interior decay; forester's paradigms die hard.
When you are tempted to cop out and play the inconclusive card, it's time to get REAL data--from the tree itself.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
I'm willing to bet he'll get or recommended a bed around that tree asap.
 
Last edited:

flyingsquirrel25

Well-Known Member
Clear the flare! Replace the soil around that sinus.

I would get the lab to recheck. Or you wasted $20.

Thank you for not condemning the tree. (That would have been most stupid, even with a Kd ID). But you need to sell some work to help it. 1 hour should do it; rcx +

It just blows my mind to see turf growing all over an infected trunk; and a qualified arborist not seeing a problem. We get such monomaniacal 'training" tunnelvisioned on interior decay; forester's paradigms die hard.
When you are tempted to cop out and play the inconclusive card, it's time to get REAL data--from the tree itself.
Help me to understand what you are suggesting please. I have a sugar maple with grass up against the trunk and the associated mower blight. The same fungus as above is growing in several locations around the trunk and the crown is showing signs of sever decline. The owner didn’t want mulch (may have convinced her to get a foot or so but not sure as I haven’t been on the property in 3 weeks or so) but she is pissed that the lawn guy hits it. Went so far as to give me the lawn guys phone number with the expectation I would call him and yell at him (not on your life). I understand grass is not supposed to live in this area, mulch is better, and I understand the reasons it’s better for the tree. But, “replacing the soil around the sinus” is where I get lost. This is going to be the area between the flairs that has the fungus (google tree sinus and see what you get, a bunch of noses)? Replacing the soil, what is the reasoning, are we trying to remove spores? And just replace with top soil or compost mix?

Fungus’ and the management of such are my weakest skills in tree care (I can see it and identify it most of the time, but what to do with it). And it’s something I would very much like to get better at. I appreciate any help you have Guy. Thanks!
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
The sinus is the area between the buttresses, yes. Often has fungus because it has included bark.

Replacing the soil, to dry the area and help codit and to remove spores.

German standard recommends 'permanently pervious aggregate" stalite.com or similar.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ATH

ATH

Well-Known Member
Thanks Guy.

I did contact the lab. Apparently, it isn't quite as conclusive as previously implied. They said they will get back with me Monday after running a "cleaned" sample, but doesn't sound like they expect a change.

If it is confirmed as Kretzschmaria, what is your opinion on keeping the tree? Major damage to the neighbor's house if it fails. If not for the reputation of this fungi, I am frankly not overly concerned about the elevated probability of failure based on the initial findings. Increment core samples to get a better feel than a resistograph (or at least a guy with limited experience on the resistograph) can offer for what is going on in there?

I will see if she wants to invest in more excavation and soil replacement with perlite (which I already have...).
 

flyingsquirrel25

Well-Known Member
The sinus is the area between the buttresses, yes. Often has fungus because it has included bark.

Replacing the soil, to dry the area and help codit and to remove spores.

German standard recommends 'permanently pervious aggregate" stalite.com or similar.
Thanks Guy. That gives us more hope than we had before. I had personally condemned the tree to a slow death and close monitoring over the next few years until a point was reached that the risk was too great to continue on the preservation tract. If we can slow the fungus’ advance we may be able to get a few more years out of the tree.

Thanks again for helping us to understand a difficult aspect of this business.
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
An opinion on managing the tree can only be competent with more info. The crown, for starters...

When we think in terms of 'keeping the tree', we play God, and the tree's at a big disadvantage.
List treatment options and prognoses. Let the owner decide. Isn't that what TRAQ teaches?
 

KTSmith

Well-Known Member
Sure looks like Kretzschmaria to me. Perhaps the re-test will show that, maybe not. Widening the scope, it certainly looks like mycelia from the Xylariaceae, a family in the ascomycetes. And jumping to superficially similar fungi like Dendrothele in the Corticiaceae (in a broad sense) is reasonable if all you are working on is other people's photos.

When technical experts match nucleic acid sequences for identification, it's all based on statistical estimates. That's not bad, that's just the way you have to do it. Also, you only know the sequences you have in the library. More are published every day. And of course, the entire sequence of critter A is not compared to the library of organisms, but only a portion that experts reckon to vary enough to distinguish species or whatever taxon of interest.

So using DNA testing to distinguish ascomycetes versus basidiomycetes...that's pretty simple, although not as simple as using a microscope if you have the sample handy. Telling families apart is more difficult. Differentiating genera even more so. Species or even "biological types" within species can also be differentiated, but the genetic record becomes more similar the deeper one drills.

I suppose my point with all of this is a word of caution. They can be quite reliable, but sample acquisition and processing conditions can affect reliability...and the separation of taxa still requires judgement calls. Its not quite the "barcoding" that folks sometimes think that it is!

Although Kretzsch is indeed a serious pathogen, extensive development of any of the Xylariaceae needs to be given respect, probably equal respect, once it is well established.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Got an update...I know you all have been waiting by your computers for this:


I was able to isolate the fruiting bodies from the sample you sent. I can confirm that it is Kretzschmaria. The strange thing is, it doesn't seem to be deusta. There's 30 some odd Kretzschmaria species, so I can't be entirely sure which one we are looking at. I've put this sample through fungal staining at 1200x mag as well as running the 3 sets of Kretzschmaria primers we currently have. I can say that I see amplification for the genus at cycle 20-22. This is indicative of a high concentration of template DNA in the sample. I get zero amplification with any of the deusta specific primers that we currently have. Any insight on other species in your area?

I've attached a screen shot of your sample alongside my Kretz controls for two different primer sets. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I'd be happy to explain the ct values and melt curves in more detail, if you desire. Hope this helps.
 

KTSmith

Well-Known Member
Thanks ATH for the update. Yes, this is what I was trying to get to with my posts above. Good they have the ID to genus.
We sometimes act as if there was some platonic ideal of taxon characteristics, be they macro- or microscopic or molecular. Then we compare our sample unknown to those ideal characteristics. If they coincide, we have the ID.
And of course, that's not how it works. All identifying characteristics, whatever the level of taxon, is based on collections of actual creatures found in nature. So your unknown certainly fit with Kretszch macroscopically and with the molecular concept of the genus. Great! But the molecular tools for K. deusta don't show agreement. So that introduces the concept that your collection may still be deusta while exhibiting a high level of genetic variation away from the previously tested collections. Or you might have indeed a different species that hasn't been banked yet.
I don't fret too much on these points. Until given further information, I'd treat it as if it were deusta. OK, yes, I could be making a bad call here, but it seems to be the best that can be done with our level of knowledge (or ignorance)!
 
  • Like
Reactions: ATH

guymayor

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the update; now we know it's that 'sneaky' fungus that is poking through the sinus, where the tree wounds itself with included bark.

What to do?
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Indeed....what to do. Other examination leaves me with with a relatively low risk of failure. But I know that risk is increasing rapidly (relatively...again).

What the client needs to decide is whethere they invest in treating and inspecting a failing +/- 50 year old tree or replace it to get the new tree going sooner than later.

If they want to keep it around, I like the recommendation for a RCX and backfill with perlite at the wounds.

What do you think of taking care samples to get a better feel for the current condition of the wood?
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Well there you have it, conclusive inconclusive data. I’d present three options 1) remove/replacement 2) stick their head in the sand 3) rcx, reduction, inspection every 6 months (one quick peek, and one more closer). Give pros and cons of each and let them decide. Core the MF btw
 
  • Like
Reactions: ATH
Top