Honey Fungus: Identification and Administration

Honey fungus is an issue as a result of it has the potential to contaminate hundreds of crops and crops, together with massive areas of pure forest. There isn’t a registered management of this pathogen, and, as soon as it takes maintain, it is vitally troublesome to eradicate. Typically, bushes and crops have to be destroyed to manage this parasitic fungus.

By being conscious of honey fungus and recognizing the consequences of this fungal root rot, you might be able to do one thing about it earlier than it’s too late. As you learn, think about the “pink weed” as described by H.G. Wells within the fictional novel The Conflict of the Worlds and so graphically depicted within the film.

The Brief Reply

Honey fungus is the frequent identify for a genus of fungi referred to as Armillaria. This disease-producing pathogen causes white rot in bushes, shrubs, woody climbers, and a few woody perennials. It will possibly normally be discovered on the base of crops and can ultimately kill off the roots by inflicting rot between the bark and the trunk.

The Lengthy Reply

Clearly, honey fungus just isn’t a innocent, candy mushroom like its identify suggests. Let’s delve deeper into the biology of this pathogen, the way it spreads, and the right way to stop it.

What’s Honey Fungus?

Close-up of small honey mushrooms growing near a tree stump with straw mulched soil. These honey mushrooms (Armillaria mellea), also known as honey fungus, are characterized by their small to medium-sized honey-colored toadstools. The convex caps of these mushrooms range from pale yellow to tan. Beneath the cap, the gills are creamy-yellow.
Initially referred to as Armillaria mellea, it is a parasitic organism with various species.

Honey fungus was initially recognized within the 1800s. It grows extensively in North America and Europe, however another continents additionally present indicators of the fungus. Initially, scientists believed this fungus was solely the Armillaria mellea species. Nonetheless, a number of extra species of Armillaria have been found and in addition match beneath the frequent identify “honey fungus.” There’s loads of analysis nonetheless to do on the topic, because the species differ internationally. All of them share a parasitic nature and the power to kill their woody plant hosts.

The world’s largest residing organism is an Armillaria species (ostoyae), first found in 1998 in jap Oregon. The fungus covers almost 965 hectares of land. In keeping with scientists, it may be the oldest residing organism.


Close-up of Armillaria mellea on an old stump in the garden. Armillaria mellea mushrooms, commonly known as honey fungus, present as medium-sized to large mushrooms with convex caps that range in color from pale yellow to tan. Armillaria mellea mushrooms have a distinctive appearance that includes slimy caps, yellowish gills, and clustered growth pattern.
Identifiable by yellow caps, this mushroom could also be edible however requires warning.

The below-ground fungal parasite usually produces fruiting our bodies (mushrooms) above the soil floor. If fruiting, it may be recognized by its yellow cap mushroom rising on the base of contaminated bushes and different woody crops.

The identify “honey” is due to its colour and never the distinctly acidic style. Some individuals contemplate the mushrooms edible, whereas others warn in opposition to consuming them uncooked, suggesting they’re solely secure when cooked. Like all wild mushrooms and foraged meals, you must use respected information books to obviously establish the fungus earlier than consuming it.

The caps of the mushrooms might be between two and 6 inches broad in colours starting from honey yellow to reddish brown. They’ve pale cream gills beneath with darkish reddish spots once they mature. The stems are three to 6 inches lengthy, with a particular stem ring forming close to the highest.

The way it Spreads

Close-up of a stump affected by Armillaria mellea in a forest. This stump is covered with thick green moss and clusters of honey-colored mushrooms. Armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungus, is a parasitic fungus that manifests as dense clusters of small to medium-sized honey-colored toadstools with convex caps that flatten and darken with age.
It spreads by way of spores and mycelial threads, infecting crops by way of roots.

Honey fungus spreads in two primary methods – by way of spores and mycelial threads.

Basidiospores are discharged from the mushrooms and dispersed by wind, crops, or animals. When the spores land, they could develop on lifeless wooden stumps, leaf mildew, felled bushes, and so on., spreading all through a forest.

However essentially the most infectious approach this parasite spreads is by mycelium. Mycelial threads are additionally referred to as rhizomorphs or “bootlaces,” and may unfold as much as 10 toes lengthy to discover a new host. The fungus spreads underground by way of the soil and assaults the roots of recent crops. It then spreads by way of the contaminated roots to different crops within the neighborhood by way of the roots and enlargement of the rhizomorphs. Any wholesome plant in its path, whether or not mature or a seedling, might be contaminated.

The way it Kills

Close-up of honey fungus inside a tree bark in a sunny garden. The honey fungus (Armillaria) appears as clusters of yellowish-brown mushrooms with convex caps.
Rhizomorphs trigger in depth root injury, resulting in tree demise.

As soon as the rhizomorphs have taken maintain, they will trigger in depth root injury. Generally, the fungus spreads across the tree, successfully ring-barking it. An contaminated tree doesn’t have a lot probability of survival. The foundation rot might take some time to see visibly within the plant, or it might kill the plant rapidly.

What Vegetation it Infects the Most

Close-up of a cluster of fresh honey fungus on small birch trunk in the garden. The honey fungus (Armillaria) on a small birch trunk presents as clusters of creamy to yellowish-brown mushrooms with convex caps. These mushrooms feature white to pale yellow gills that darken with age. They form dense, overlapping clusters at the base of the trunk.
This fungus infects a variety of crops, some being extra prone than others.

Conifers, broad-leafed bushes, fruit bushes, woody shrubs, and perennials are prone to this parasite. From the smallest seedling to the most important forest tree, most woody crops might be contaminated. That is an equal alternative parasite.

There are not any recognized crops which might be fully resistant to this root rot fungus, however there are these which might be extra susceptible to getting the illness. These embrace peaches, pepper bushes, apples, pears, privets, beech, birch, hydrangeas, and magnolias.

What to Search for Above Floor

Close-up of Honey fungus clusters on a tree trunk covered with moss. Honey fungus clusters appear as dense, overlapping masses of creamy to yellowish-brown mushrooms with convex caps.
Mushrooms seem primarily in autumn, concentrating on confused or disturbed crops.

Autumn is the principle season to identify the mushrooms above floor.

Bushes or crops which might be confused are extra prone to assault. Areas the place the pure vegetation is disturbed or cleared are particularly weak to an infection.

Contaminated bushes and crops will generally exhibit dieback, an absence of recent leaves, or paler-colored leaves in spring. You may additionally see the higher crops of the plant die again, particularly in sizzling, dry durations.

Simply earlier than a plant dies, two opposing indicators may occur: They might cease flowering, or they might exhibit a large flowering interval with a great deal of fruit.

Some crops will bleed sap and crack, have insect infestations attributable to a confused plant, or begin shedding their bark on the base of the plant.

What to Search for Under Floor

A network of dark strands of fungi called rhizomorphs of Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea on an old rotten tree trunk. The rhizomorphs appear as dark, root-like structures spreading along the surface under the bark. These rhizomorphs are rope-like in appearance, ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter, and are black in color.
Rhizomorphs unfold close to the soil floor, forming parasitic threads between bark and stems.

The mycelial threads or rhizomorphs are black threads that kind a construction paying homage to aliens. This alien-looking root system spreads alongside parallel strains with aspect ‘roots’ spreading throughout the lattice. This lattice will transfer by way of the soil by way of the highest eight or so inches . They like to stay near the floor of the soil.

The rhizomorphs additionally kind a sample of parasitic threads between the bark and the stem of bushes and crops. Generally, the one technique to establish it’s by eradicating a number of the bark on the base of the plant.

Lifeless or decaying roots will usually have a really sturdy mushroom scent.

Management Choices

These are a number of the management and preventative choices to contemplate when you discover this parasite in your backyard.


Close-up of watering a young tree in a sunny garden. The tree has a thin vertical trunk with smooth, brown-gray bark. A puddle formed in the soil at the base of the tree.
Forestall the fungus by making certain crops aren’t confused. Present correct watering and drainage.

There will not be many types of prevention that may work on this parasite, however decreasing plant stress will go a great distance in discouraging fungal ailments or pests normally. Ensure that the soil is well-draining and never compacted.

Additionally, don’t injury or waterlog the roots. They want air to carry out their essential duties of absorbing water and vitamins, and won’t be able to take action if their roots are drowning. Waterlogged, compacted soil creates an area the place root rot fungi can simply colonize your plant or tree.

Chemical Management

Close-up of a removed stump with roots in a sunny garden. Next to the flowerbed there is a large garden shovel and a large axe. The stump with roots appears as a remaining portion of a tree trunk protruding from the ground, accompanied by a network of underground roots.
There isn’t a chemical management for this illness; take away contaminated crops and burn roots to eradicate.

There’s but no efficient chemical management or registered fungicides for the management of honey fungus. It is strongly recommended to take away an contaminated plant and burn it instantly, together with the roots and any stumps.

By destroying its meals supply, you’ll destroy the fungus. If you happen to’re uncertain whether or not or not you must do that, seek the advice of your native extension workplace.

Organic Management

Young cypress tree planted in a garden with plastic trunk protection. The tree trunk protector appears as a cylindrical or conical structure encasing the lower portion of the trunk. It is made of green plastic and fits snugly around the trunk, creating a barrier that prevents abrasions and promotes healthy growth. The base of the tree is covered with a layer of mulch from dry branches and leaves.
Trichoderma, a useful fungus, might assist management honey fungus; bodily limitations restrict unfold.

Though there may be nothing registered for the management of honey fungus, there are some choices obtainable. For instance, a naturally occurring ‘good’ fungus referred to as Trichoderma is a plant protector. In some research, it was discovered efficient for the management of some Armillaria species. Trichoderma is present in mulches and woody plant supplies, however it is usually obtainable as a product that may be added to stimulate plant progress and assist shield the roots.

Some management might be achieved by limiting the unfold of the mycelial threads. Do that by putting bodily limitations in its approach, like a heavy plastic barrier buried across the plant to at the least 18 inches deep. Additionally, when you break up the wooden bits usually, it’s going to gradual the unfold of the fungus.

Ultimate Ideas

It’s considerably unsettling to know that an underground community of parasites can pounce on any unsuspecting tree or plant. Nonetheless, there are additionally hundreds of useful soil fungi that may hold your crops glad and wholesome.

The honey fungus is one other reminder of the ability of nature. We will overcome this pathogen by being accountable gardeners and paying shut consideration to our crops. A wholesome, well-tended backyard just isn’t usually contaminated by harmful pathogens, however the extra we learn about them, the higher we are able to stop them.

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