Palm Tree Trunk Diseases: Learn About Ganoderma In Palms

Palm Tree Trunk Disease On Base Of Tree
(Image credit: Edward L. Barnard, Fla Dept. of Agriculture,

Ganodera palm disease, also called ganoderma butt rot, is a white rot fungus that causes palm tree trunk diseases. It can kill palm trees. Ganoderma is caused by the pathogen Ganoderma zonatum, and any palm tree can come down with it. However, little is known about the environmental conditions that encourage the condition. Read on for information about ganoderma in palms and good ways of dealing with ganoderma butt rot.

Ganoderma in Palms

Fungi, like plants, are divided into genera. The fungal genus Ganoderma contains different wood-decaying fungi found around the world on almost any type of wood, including hard wood, soft wood, and palms. These fungi can result in ganoderma palm disease or other palm tree trunk diseases. The first sign you are likely to have when ganoderma palm disease has infected your palm is the conk or basidiocarp that forms on the side of a palm trunk or stump. It appears as a soft, but solid, white mass in a circular shape lying flat against the tree. As the conk matures, it grows into a shape that resembles a little, half-moon shaped shelf and it turns partially gold. As it gets old, it darkens even more into brown shades, and even the base of the shelf is no longer white. The conks produce spores that experts believe are the primary means of spreading this ganoderma in palms. It is also possible, however, that pathogens found in the soil are capable of spreading this and other palm tree trunk diseases.

Ganoderma Palm Disease

Ganoderma zonatum produces enzymes that cause the ganoderma palm disease. They rot or degrade woody tissue in the lower 5 feet (1.5 m.) of the palm trunk. In addition to the conks, you may see a general wilting of all of the leaves in the palm other than the spear leaf. The tree growth slows, and the palm fronds turn off color. Scientists cannot say, as yet, how long it takes before a tree infected with Ganoderma zanatum produces a conk. However, until a conk appears, it is not possible to diagnose a palm as having ganoderma palm disease. That means that when you plant a palm in your yard, there is no way for you to be sure that it is not already infected by the fungus. No pattern of cultural practices has been associated with the development of this disease. Since the fungi only appears on the lower segment of the trunk, it is not related to improper pruning of the fronds. At this time, the best recommendation is to watch for signs of ganoderma in palms and remove a palm if conks appear on it.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.