You should be taking tree stump removal action now. Both Forestry Commission and The Royal Horticultural Society advise it. This is with reference to the very real threat of an attack to your gardens mature trees from a fungal parasite armillaria mellea, better known as honey fungus. Removal of tree stumps is imperative to the control of an attack by honey fungus. Pickers of wild mushrooms are combing our forests this time of year, so it would seem obvious to minimise fungal growth within our own gardens. Those of us who live around the Thetford Forest area are accustomed to the sight of row upon row of uprooted tree stumps within a harvested sector of the forest. The Forestry Commission incurs great expense with this activity which is unique to the U.K. Anglian region owing to the endemic regional persistence of fungal attack to saplings and indeed mature trees. Further The Royal Horticultural Society also advises stump removal for the self-same reasons. Ignore this professional advice at your gardens peril. Below is a list of the basics you should be aware of with the control of Armillaria mellea (honey fungus):
What You Should Know About Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea) In Layman’s Terms:
A fungal parasite that affects roots, trunks and stems of mostly dead or dying plants, but can attack healthy mature plants and trees. A creamy white fungal membrane spreads between the plants skin/bark and its underlying tissue/wood. Mushrooms may grow to spread its spores. This depends on its maturity of growth. Dark root like strands are sent below ground level to spread, and seek out in its quest for other food.
Honey fungus is not poisonous, and indeed can be consumed providing it is correctly identified. The following description is generic owing to the many varieties (over a dozen) and should not be rigidly followed without colour photographic examples: Its fruiting bodies (mushrooms) form in large groups of yellow-brown to dark brown clusters. They usually emerge at the base of a trunk in the autumn. They have been seen as high as six meters up the trunk. They have a strong smell of mushrooms. They can be identified by a creamy white membrane, under the bark. Dark root like “boot laces” (rizomorphs) are always seen at the trunks base.
Honey Fungus is a fungal parasite amongst many other fungal parasites. They are the woodlands dustbins. It is natures way of disposing dead or dying wood/plants, and is the horticultural equivalent to hyenas, and vultures, i.e. scavengers. New growth would become difficult if not impossible without this cycle of organic disposal. Fruiting bodies (mushrooms) surrender millions of spores to the prevailing winds. They settle on everything but germinate on dead or damaged wood. As it grows under the bark, so do the “boot laces” (rizomorphs) which enter the soil as snake-like alien creatures. They are similar to those seen in some past horror movies, but on a smaller scale.
If honey fungus has reached maturity in your garden where it forms mushrooms you should remove the mushrooms into a plastic dustbin bag for disposal. Do not burn them. This releases more spores. Better yet, fry them in butter and eat them. However, first be sure it is honey fungus. Have the stump(s) professionally ground out down to their root system(s). Dispose of the wood chippings preferably in plastic bags sealed at their openings. You should rely on a specialist tree stump grinding company who will take adequate measures towards minimising the spread of this fungal parasite during stump grinding operations. indeed, after stump grinding operations have been completed equipment used is either washed, or at least blown down on site. Don’t be too surprised if a request is made for the use of your garden hose to wash down the stump grinding machine for that purpose.
You know the adage “an ounce of prevention—“. This is especially true with grinding away and disposing of tree stumps. Prevention of a fungal parasitic attack is far easier than a cure. A cure will be difficult to impossible. This will rather depend on how localised it is—or isn’t. At best, one can practically expect to slow or stop its advance. Stumps must be ground out, also with chippings removed. Wood chippings must be properly disposed of (without burning). Burning contaminated wood chippings will consequently dispurse spores throughout a wide area. Treat the remaining stump hole with Armillitox or your favourite fungicide. You should carefully follow its instructions for use. Fill the hole with fresh top soil after treatment.
Try your skills at growing resistant plants like Early Purple Orchids, or Box, Elder, Californian Black Walnut, Yew, Grand & Noble Fir, Bamboos, Hornbeam, Beech, Ash, Common Ivy, Oaks, Juniper, Larch, Laurel, False Acacia, Whitebeam, annuals, herbaceous perennials, or seed with lawn.
We at Blitz-A-Stump are here to assist you with the control of this fungal parasite and potential garden killer at: http://www.blitz-a-stump.co.uk
Michael L. Lish