It’s hard to picture a Florida landscape without imagining palm trees swaying in the breeze. These trees have become a favorite of landscape designers in the southern parts of the state, largely because of their durability and adaptability, but they’re not without natural enemies. Chief among them is the lethal and incurable Ganoderma Palm Disease which attacks mature palm trees. Ganoderma zonatum, the pathogen that causes Ganoderma Palm Disease, can easily spread through garden tools, but it only takes a bit of wind to spread the disease, so you should remove or grind the stump of an infected tree that has been cut down. Ganoderma Palm Disease will typically kill a tree just 6 to 12 months after the initial symptoms appear. The first signs of the disease will be drooping and browning of the older fronds, new growth will slow and become yellow or pale green, and the tips of younger leaves will turn brown. Other symptoms include “bleeding”, a reddish secretion that stains the trunk. The formation of a bracket fungus or “conk” like the one shown in these photos is evidence that your palm is infected with Ganoderma, but this woody mushroom is not always visible in infected trees. This conk is actually the reproductive body of the disease and it should be carefully removed and discarded as soon as it is spotted to prevent the spread of the disease to neighboring palms. This mushroom starts out as a little, white blob at the bottom of the tree. As it grows, it starts to protrude like a shelf and it becomes hard and brown with bands of different shades of brown. Once the conk is mature, it swells around the edges and a white surface where millions of spores are produced becomes visible. Once a diseased tree has been removed, you’ll want to re-landscape the area, but keep in mind that the fungus will still be present in the root system of the removed palm and in the soil so, if you’re replacing the removed palm with another palm remove all the old roots and replace the soil with new soil or just plant something other than a palm tree in that spot. If you suspect that your mature palms are infected with Ganoderma or any other disease and you are in Sarasota or Bradenton, don’t delay, call GreenEdgeLawn & Ornamental at 941-756-9301.

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