Don't Take Signs of Butt Rot Lightly
April 19, 2016
Butt rot: This tree disease may have a giggle-inducing name, but when it comes to saving your tree it’s no laughing matter.
What is butt rot?
Butt rot is caused by a variety of fungi that penetrate the tissue of the tree as it softens due to roots and the trunk being covered in soil, overwatering and other environmental factors. The bark and tissue of a tree may at first appear leathery and tough, but eventually becomes soft and spongy. This allows additional pathogens to pass through the external protective “skin” of the tree and cause further damage. Butt rot can manifest for years below the soil before being detected, not only causing the base of the trunk to weaken, but also the roots below the soil. This reduces the structural integrity of the tree. Over time, fruiting bodies will form at the base of the tree and in the tissue of the trunk.
This Hackberry (Sugarberry) tree had some signs of rot present visible above the Asian Jasmine planted around the base of the tree. Without the proper management, the vining plant had buried the root flare. We were called upon to perform a root flare excavation and as we began the job, we realized the tree was in much more severe shape then anticipated. A good 50% of the base of this tree is basically a sponge! It is amazing how a tree’s canopy can look exceptional even when there is a much different story below the soil.
The fate of this tree…
Unfortunately, this tree now poses a big risk to the property. It is a 50-foot tall tree planted less than 20-feet from two separate houses. In this case, the risk is too great to keep the tree as it could quickly topple over in a storm, or even just a gust of strong wind.
Losing an established tree is always a difficult loss, but when the risk of keeping the tree outweighs the benefit and safety of the homeowner, then we recommend removing the tree and replanting a new one in its place.