and age of a tree are important when it comes to determining how a partic- ular fungi might impact the tree in the long term. For example, artist’s conk ( Ganoderma spp.) fruiting bodies are ex- tremely common on older maple trees. The presence of one small conk on the trunk likely has minimal impact on the tree’s ability to thrive. If the tree is inun- dated with fast-growing and expanding conks, and other visual indicators of de- cay and growth deficits are present, the structure of the tree may be in question and should be assessed more closely.
Understanding abiotic and biotic factors and the difference between signs and symptoms will help you to identify the potential stress indicators you see in the trees throughout your course and make informed decisions about tree and ecosystem management. While consulting a qualified arborist is the most effective way to ensure you are correctly diagnosing tree issues, you can maintain the ecosystem value of your property by staying on top of tree health. Regular observations aimed at recognizing tree-related issues will help protect your ecosystem and can alert you to burgeoning problems in time to prevent long-term or major damages. So read, and re-read, your trees. They tell an ever-changing and valuable story.
Fungus come in many shapes and sizes. Top: Fruiting body of honey fungus (Armillaria spp.) Above: Mycelial fans from honey fungus. Both of these signs result from the same fungal organism, but may not all be present at the same time. Know your local decay-causing fungi and which signs to look for.
Below left: Rhizomorphs from honey fungus.
Below right: A nesting or feeding hole in the trunk of a tree, typically from a bird, may indicate trunk decay and warrants closer examination.
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