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Living with honey fungus

BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,494
edited November 2019 in Problem solving
With thanks to Lizzie27 for her comment replying to my posting on the ‘Cheerful’ thread, can I ask about people’s experience of living with honey fungus? Does the area around look like a war zone as the disease takes hold? The RHS says it advances at the rate of about a metre a year. Is that what you have found?

Our honey fungus is growing on some chunky elm tree stumps on a steep bank. Digging out the stumps, stabilising the bank and maybe building a retaining wall is likely to cost about £1000 - £4000. Now that would not bankrupt me but I would rather spend it on something else.

Around the outbreak it is semi wild planting - primroses, cow parsley, dog rose, hawthorn. Perhaps 3 to 5 metres away are a couple of elm trees. 10+ metres away is a majestic ash tree. At the top of the bank it is my neighbour’s land and there are planted some monstrous leylandii. I would not mind in the least if they died but I do not want to antagonise my neighbours and the leylandii roots no doubt stabilise the bank.

These photos give an idea of the site

So, what would you do? Pay up or live with the fungus?
Rutland, England


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,192
    Hi Ben - not sure what I'd do. I suppose it depends whether there is other more valuable planting within striking range. I think ash is one of the more resilient tree species where HF is concerned?

    I'm a bit upset myself at the moment having just found out that Honey Fungus is almost certainly the reason a Rugosa Rose has been extremely sickly this year. 

    I've just (yesterday and today) dug it out with as much root as possible and rather a lot of soil (not the easiest of jobs) and will now just have to see if the other highly vulnerable shrubs in that bed (crab apple, several more roses, various viburnums and other immature trees) also succumb.

    Everything is about 5 years old and represents many hours of work and a not insignificant sum of money. I'm gutted but, for now, I'm going to have to play the waiting game. If it's in the soil I'm not sure I can do too much about it.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295
    I live with HF. First showed itself with 2 large willows about 12 years ago. I have lost 2, maybe 3, clematis in the same area and maybe a laurel is now going. Not everything gets it, I have a well grown Ash in the stump of one, there's no room for it and I keep cutting it back, but it lives on. Maybe also a Thuja succumbed but not sure about the cause of that death, no evidence to see.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,762
    The largest patch of honey fungus found so far covers 3.4 square miles and is thought to be thousands of years old so we have little option but to live with it.

    If your elm stumps are holding up the bank you may need to do the work eventually but it is unlikely that you will be able to eradicate it. Look on the bright side - it is edible so you will have a lifetime's supply for mushroom risotto.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,548
    my advice is to live with it, rather than fight against it. It'll win, and you will lose.
  • My experience is very similar to that of nutcutlet.  About 30 years ago a young (but still 50ft tall!) beech died very quickly and I noticed tell-tale 'bootlaces' when the bark at the base split.  I couldn't remove the stump due to poor access and HF radiated from there.  I think a stump in a neighbour's garden is also infected.   I've lost several japanese acers and clematis since and one or two other woody shrbs, but most hardy perennials seem fine and annuals are completely unaffected.  I found that deeply cultivating a strip of soil regularly in a line to separate an infected stump and other garden areas has reduced the spread considerably and I've been growing various fruit and magnolia trees within a few meters of the two stumps for 15 years or more since doing that.  I often see HF rhizomorphs crossing the veg plots when planting etc. but each of those 3 beds automatically get cleared of it every 3 years simply due to crop rotation and spud planting/lifting.  It causes no issues whatsoever in my veg crops.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295
    Hexagon, really need to see underneath pics and the context

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,762
    Possibly Sulfur Tuft. If so it will have sulfur yellow stems and olive green gills.
  • We have HF on the stumps of a couple of pine trees. The trees were removed 4 or 5 years ago.  The honey fungus is there and has not spread beyond those two stumps.  HF was also the cause of part of a privet hedge dying off in a different part of our garden. We removed the dead hedge and HF, treated the area with a nasty chemical in the days when it was freely available and we weren't so eco friendly, waited 3 years and then planted a new privet hede to replace it.  That was approx 15 years ago and no sign of HF returning so far. So perhaps it would be worth your while to remove as much of the HF and stump as you possibly can @BenCotto.
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