If someone told you that you had “Butt Rot”, you shouldn’t be offended, but you should pay close attention! Butt Rot is the nickname for Ganoderma zonatum. It is a lethal fungus that attacks and kills palm trees. Once you spot it, your tree already is infected and needs to be removed. There is no treatment for the fungus and the tree cannot be saved.
I had noticed that my Areca palm tree tops were falling over. Branches were bending down for no reason and other than that, the tree looked healthy.
I knew something was not right, so I called a tree company. I won’t mention the name, but the man came to my house, looked at my trees and his answer to my concern was “the trees need minerals” and for only $400, he would take care of that immediately.
By this time I had already found “butt rot” on the Internet and feared this was what I had in my yard.so I pressed on and I then called Davey Trees. This technician did confirm the dreaded “butt rot” diagnosis and told me that the tree(s) had to be removed and it would be “$1,000 per tree to remove and grind the stump”. WHAT????
I almost passed out! So I went on a quest to become an “expert” on butt rot and to figure out what I had to do. I will share with you what I learned, but I suggest you research it for yourself.
As I said, it is lethal. The signs to watch for are healthy tops, falling over, branches bending down, tops shriveling and then falling, canes rotting and the sure sign is the conch’s. (mushroom formation)
A tree can be infected and not have a conch appear but once the conch appears, the tree needs to come down, ASAP.
The palm tree canes, 4 ft. and above, can be carried to the curb for the lawn debris collection, the bottom part of the tree must be removed, bagged and incinerated. It cannot go into the landfill. The stump must be ground down and you will not be able to plant another palm, since the fungus will stay in the soil and it will travel to the new palm. Another type of tree can be planted into the spot.
Now here is the tricky part: the fungus travels through spores. So that means that if you have a conch, and the wind blows, it can spread millions and millions of spores. Trees catch it from a “wound”. So if your landscapers come to your yard and weed wack and cut the trunk of your palm, then a wound is open and the spores can get in and infect the tree. Pruning a tree also causes a wound.
So as you can see, it is very, very, easy for a tree to become infected.
There is no treatment for trees once they are infected and a horticulturist told me that the best defense is fertilize your healthy trees and keep them strong. A strong immune system for the tree is the best and only chance that a tree will have against contracting the butt rot. Also, if you have to cut a branch, put a sealer on the wound. Also, do not use pruning tools from an infected palm tree on a healthy tree. That is a sure way to transfer the fungus. That is why your landscapers are the ones who most likely are causing the spread of the fungus.
Here is a picture of a tree stump that is infected. Note the conch’s. Those need to be covered and collected into a plastic bag and removed and the bag needs to be sealed off to keep spores from spreading.