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White stuff on mature Japanese maple trunk

jamesharcourtjamesharcourt West SussexPosts: 465
Does anybody have any idea what this fairly recent white stuff is appearing on the trunk of one of my Japanese maples?


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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,851
    edited December 2018
    some sort of fungus, not a good sign. Looks like the bark has been damaged, that sort of fungus is the result of bark damage, not the cause
  • jamesharcourtjamesharcourt West SussexPosts: 465
    Should I take any action?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,018
    edited December 2018
    Save up for a new one, James  ;)
    What a shame - it doesn't look too happy does it?  It does look as if there's quite  a bit of damage to the trunk here and there - bark missing, as nut says. 
    Have you got a wider view of the whole tree?
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • jamesharcourtjamesharcourt West SussexPosts: 465
    Not at the moment but it does have new growth which still hasn’t dropped leaf.

    The white stuff is low down but it’s a good 10’ tall.  It’s had a horrid year, will this fungus kill it or can I do anything?

    The tree is enormous and getting it out of the ground would be a horrendous task!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,175
    Don’t think it’ll need the fungus to kill it ... it’s already on its way out possibly due to the damaged bark ... the fungus is feeding on the already decaying material. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • jamesharcourtjamesharcourt West SussexPosts: 465
    @Dovefromabove is it likely to be dead by Spring, i.e Should I remove it now? Or should I wait until spring to see what happens?

    I’m new to these kind of problems as you can probably tell!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,175
    I believe that every dead plant is a new planting opportunity so, I'd take it down this winter, replenish the soil around it and start choosing something to plant nearby.

    If you have space in your garden for a wood pile for wildlife some logs from your dead tree will be ideal.  https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/dead-wood-for-wildlife/

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,851
    It may struggle on for a while if there's healthy bark on the other side but it has a very limited future.
  • jamesharcourtjamesharcourt West SussexPosts: 465
    I have to admit, I can't bring myself to remove it.  I have a weird thing about nursing stuff back to health wherever and whenever possible.

    Does anybody think it would pose a threat to nearby trees?  It isn't an eyesore and I have patience :-)  But if it's definitely flogging a dead horse, I'll bite the bullet.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    Most fungi (and I think the one on your tree) only live on already dead matter, so the bark on your tree is dead wherever that white growth has appeared.  That is not good news as the inner bark (called cambium) is the only part of the woody sections of the tree which is actually growing.  It is different if the heartwood is infected as that can rot leaving just the cambium and sapwood and a tree will happily keep on growing (hence ancient hollow Oak trees still growing happily.)  Rotten heartwood causes the tree to be physically weaker but doesn't kill it directly.  Rotting bark = tree soon going to the great arboretum in the sky. :'(
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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