They may look like harmless mushrooms, but honey fungus can rapidly kill trees and shrubs - and very few species are immune.
Many herbaceous perennials and woody plants are affected by honey fungus, which is actually several different species of fungi.
It attacks and kills the roots of plants and shows as white fungal growth between the wood and the bark, normally around ground level. In late summer to autumn honey-coloured toadstools may appear in large clumps.
Honey fungus spreads underground and can thrive on living, dead and decaying plant material. It puts out rhizomorphs, which are root-like structures that grow close to the ground and spread at up to a metre a year. This can produce enormous organisms that spread over huge areas.
Symptoms of honey fungus damage include dieback, decaying roots and the sudden death of plants, including trees.
Unfortunately, there is no effective chemical control for honey fungus so the only remedy is to remove all infected plants, including roots. All these should be immediately burned to avoid contamination of other plants.
On the plus side, many Europeans eat honey fungus mushrooms and they are regarded as superior to other types of wild mushroom. They need to be thoroughly cooked as they can contain toxins when raw, and be aware that one of the four English varieties can cause sickness if eaten within 24 hours of drinking alcohol!
Since honey fungus can also grow alongside deadly poisonous fungi, perhaps it’s not such a good idea to eat it after all!
For advice about honey fungus and its effect on your trees, please fill in the contact form or call us