As Pacific Northwesterners, we might love trees more than most people. Washington is known as the Evergreen State and people travel from far and wide to enjoy the miles of green in our backyard. Unfortunately, our damp weather that makes our forests so green also fosters a great habitat for fungi that make their homes inside of trees. These fungi can reproduce inside of tree trunks, causing them to weaken and even fall. Preventative measures and early detection are the keys to managing tree rot. For more information on tree rot, here are some frequently asked questions answered by Washington Tree Expert specialists:

Q: First things first, what is tree rot?   

A: Tree rot, or wood decay is the long term process of wood degradation by fungi. It affects the center of a tree’s trunk and its branches. Fungi can enter the inside of a tree through weaknesses in the tree’s bark. As fungi grows and multiplies, it decays the tree from the inside out.  

Q: What does tree rot look like? How can you identify it opposed to other tree ailments?

A: Identification can be complex because decay and rot are often hidden or deep inside the tree.  Tell tale signs a tree might be affected include cavities, holes, openings, fungal fruiting bodies, conks, carpenter ants, or termites.

Q: Are there different types of tree rot? What causes them?

A: Almost all wood decay is caused by fungi. Different types of rot are caused by different fungi species. Some common types include root rot, sapwood rot, and heartwood rot.

Q: Why is it a problem and what dangers are associated with trees that have tree rot?

A: Significant amounts of tree rot reduce structural strength and increase failure potential. If a tree becomes weak enough it can fall, causing serious danger and damage to people and structures in the surrounding area. Tree rot within a tree’s branches can cause them to bend and break, also causing damage to whatever is in close proximity to the tree.

Q: What are some ways you can prevent tree rot?

A: Preventing damage to the trunk is one key way to prevent tree rot, as the trunk is where fungi would gain access to the tree. Proper watering is another preventative measure: it is important to provide adequate water but over watering can create an ideal habitat for fungi to grow, leading to tree rot. Once one tree is affected by tree rot it’s more likely to affect other trees in the area. This is because it’s very hard to get the fungi out of the soil even if a tree is removed-so preventative measures are very important!    

Q: What types of trees are most prone to tree rot? In what kind of climate?

A: There are no simple rules to predicting tree rot and all trees can be affected. The Pacific Northwest’s wet climate makes tree rot very common in this area.

Q: If you know you have tree rot what should you do? Is this something you can fix on your own or should you call an expert?

A:  Prevention is the best medicine as there is no easy fix; once fungi are inside a tree it is very difficult to get rid of and damage cannot be undone. Washington Tree Experts can perform a “Tree Risk Assessment” to analyze trees and diagnose any problems and dangers.

In the forest and residential areas alike trees give a picturesque and refreshing dose of nature. However, if they’re not adequately taken care of, overtime they can cause a lot of damage. Preventative care is a great way to avoid long term problems and dangers with trees. If you think trees in your area may have tree rot, or other potentially dangerous problems contact Washington Tree Experts today for consultation and risk evaluation!