Butt Rot in Palms

The Florida Forest Service is quick to jump in to explain that this disease is not some juvenile expletive, “Butt rot, as its name implies, is a progressive rotting or decaying of the base of infected plants.” In this case, a fungus, Ganoderma zonatum, that infects the lower four to five feet of a palm tree causing the tree to wilt away and die. A particularly good example of this lethal disease is along one of the trails at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA) where a palm tree exhibits the shelf-like basidiocarps, or conks, around its lower trunk. The reddish-brown appearance means these are mature spore-releasing conks making them a sure danger to other palms in the area. Interestingly, the conk emerges from areas of well developed infection existing in the trunk so the tree is far along on the road to its demise when the conk appears.

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