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Plant Diseases/Green Moutain Ash with Orange Berries

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Mountain Ash Orange Berries
Mountain Ash Orange Be  
Black Growth
Black Growth  
QUESTION: Hello Dr. Vann,

There is a Green Moutain Ash whose flowers turn into Orange Berries in my back yard. The tree was planted by the previous owner in I think 1979. I purchased the home in 2005.

For as long as I have owned the home this tree has MANY developed suckers that grow up from the roots all around the base of the tree. I keep cutting them back to the ground. The tree is mulched.

When I cut the suckers this time after a long dry spell of two weeks with temps in the 90s, I noticed a black growth on the base of this tree. This tree has several spots with the bark missing down to the wood. The black growth may be on that spot without bark.

I am attaching a photo of the growth and the tree itself. Could you identity the growth for me, why its there, and how to get rid of it?

Second, why does the ash tree keep growing those suckers from the root system around the base of the tree and how can I stop that so the energy of the tree is not sapped?

Many thanks!

Mike

ANSWER: Mike:
The black growth at the base of the tree is a fungus that I believe is called "Dead Man's Fingers".  I believe that this fungus called Xylaria (google theses names for a photo to compare) and represents a root/trunk related decline. Removing the growth will not make the problem go away.  The suckers are an indication that the tree is being stressed.  The stress is probably a root/trunk type rot that is internal.  Loose bark is also an indication.  Tree removal/replacement is probably the best long term option.  Wounds created on the stem is an open invitation for insects and disease organisms to enter and setup housekeeping thus prevention of wounds is essential for good health.

In reference to the "berries", can you send a closeup photo?

Regards
Steve

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Orange Berries
Orange Berries  

Trunk Closeup
Trunk Closeup  
QUESTION: Hi Steve,

Thank you for identifying the black growth. This is the first year I have ever seen this black growth on the tree. About 4 or 5 years ago either a wood pecker or sap sucker riddled the main tree trunk with holes like the tree was shot by a machine gun but all the holes are in nice neat rows with 4 to 6 holes per row. I attached a second file with a close up of the holes.

I hate to remove the tree because the orange berries look really cool this time of year right into fall as they glow a brighter orange as summer wears on. I apply Bayer Tree and Shrub liquid around the base of the tree every spring the past 4 years to baby it along. I also normally spray it with Sevin but did not do that this year as it was unusually hot in the upper 90s for much of July.

How well would it work out if I let one of the suckers from the roots grow up as a tree to replace this declining tree?

Have I correctly named this tree as a Green Mountain Ash?

Lastly, will a potential rotted root system from the Green Mt Ash make planting a tree near or in this spot unwise one once one is cut down?

I have attached a close up photo of the berries as per your request.

Thank you for your help!

Appreciatively,

Mike

Answer
Mike:
Letting the sucker grow may work, but it will take a long time to have a nice tree with a good form to it.  May be better to start with a nursery grown tree.  Your ID looks correct, however, you can snip off a small branch and include the berries- carry to your local nursery/garden center to get their comments.  Don't think we have that tree here.

As far as replanting, difficult to say.  I may suggest avoiding the immediate area to be on the safe side.  Very helpful to avoid the wounding that i mentioned earlier.  Things like lawnmowers and string trimmers that damage the bark are a death sentence- thus they need to be avoided near the tree.  Consider mulching to keep out the weeds and conserve soil moisture-- no more than 3" deep and pull the mulch back away from the trunk some--do not pile it up against the trunk.

Steve

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Dr Stephen Vann

Expertise

Plant Diseases and Disorders of Lawn Grasses, Trees, Vegetables,and Ornamentals

Experience

Plant Diseases Identification and Management

Education/Credentials
B.S. Botany --- Miss. State Univ. M.S. Plant Pathology --- Miss. State Univ. Ph.D. Plant Pathology --- Texas A & M Univ.

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