What is Honey Fungus?
A parasitic fungus that affects roots, trunks and stems of dead or damaged plants. A creamy white sheet of fungus grows between the bark and plant tissue beneath it. Mushroom like fruiting bodies may grow to propagate spores. That's not all: dark root-like strands spread below ground. The root-like strands are the main propagation weapons.
Is it dangerous to humans or animals?
How do I recognise it?
A group of large, yellow-brown to dark brown mushroom-like growths covered in dark hairy scales may emerge from the base of the stem or trunk in the autumn. These have been seen growing at 20 feet above ground level. There is a strong distinctive mushroom smell. Peel back the bark and look for the white or cream paper like sheets sandwiched between the bark and underlying wood. Dark root-like strands (rhizomorphs), commonly called "bootlaces" spread below ground. Roots sink in a bucket of water; rhizomorphs float.
It's nothing personal; you don't stand a chance. Each mushroom sends millions of spores into the atmosphere. The spores germinate only on dead or damaged wood irrespective of variety. The rhizomorphs spread below ground to neighbouring trees and may invade healthy roots.
Why is it?
Honey fungus is the woodlands' hyenas, jackals and vultures rolled into one. It is a scavenger. It cleans up woodland whether it wants it or not. It reduces the lignum and cellulose to glucose, which insects can digest. Without honey fungus the surface of the world would be piled high with the corpses of dead trees.
What can I do about the spores?
What can I do about an infected stump?
Have it professionally ground out and compost the chippings.
Should I remove all old stumps in order to protect other trees and shrubs in my garden?
What can I do about the underground rhizomorphs invading neighbouring trees?
A rhizomorph will push through thick polythene and even if severed from the source will continue its mission. Treat with Armillatox. (Visit www.armillatox.co.uk/ go to the honey fungus page). This deflects the rhizomorphs to the surface where sunlight kills them.
Do I have to use chemicals?
No. You can grow Early Purple Orchids, which are predators. Growing them will tax your horticultural skills to the limit.
Do Honey Fungus rhizomorphs attack all trees?
No. Susceptible varieties are: Lilac, Privet, Apple, many Flowering Cherries, Willow, Birch, Walnut, Cedars, Cypresses, Monkey Puzzle and Wellingtonia.
Is anything resistant to the rhizomorphs?
Yes. Resistant species include: Box elder, Californian black walnut, Yew, Grand and Noble fir, Bamboos, Hombeam, Beech, Ash, Common ivy, Junipers, Larch, Cherry laurel, Oaks, False acacia and Whitebeam. Annual plants and lawns are not affected (although mushrooms could sprout through lawns from rhizomorphs distant from tree roots or from the dead underground roots of infected trees) Herbaceous perennials appear to be rarely attacked and seem to be virtually immune.
What do I do with the hole after an infected stump has been ground out?
Remove and compost all debris. Fill with fresh topsoil. Plant annuals or herbaceous perennials and leave for 18 months. A tree can then be safely planted. Alternatively chemically treat, or, try your hand at Early Purple Orchids.
How far can the rhizomorphs spread?
Up to 30 feet away, up to 25 inches deep, or from one tree to the next.
Are the mushrooms edible?
Yes. Make sure they are honey fungus! They can be fried in butter and there are recipes at www.mssf.org/cookbook/honey for
- Drying and reconstituting for use in soups, stews and mushroom loaves
- Spicy Honey Mushroom Relish
- Honey Mushroom Salad
- Pork Stew with Honey Mushrooms.
Do the mushrooms have a medicinal value...allegedly?
Yes. Reduces symptoms of essential and renal hypertension and of neurasthenia. Used to improve vision and counteract opthalmia and night blindness prevent respiratory and digestive tract conditions increases blood flow to the brain and heart without increasing blood pressure decreases heart rate reduces peripheral and coronary vascular resistance is sedative anticonvulsive and protects against ionising effects of radiation.'
Is it a member of the Five Mile High Club?
Probably. Spores have been sampled at five miles high though what they were doing is not recorded. All we know is that there are a lot about. Virtually every sample of air at ground level contains spores at all times of the year.
What does the Latin name Armillaria mellea mean?
Scaly like an Armadillo: mel is Latin for honey
Does infected wood glow in the dark?
Aristotle noted it 2000 years ago.
In medieval times they lit hay barns with clusters of rhizomorphs and roots covered with rhizomorphs were considered to have medical power. These were the original magic wands.
Soldiers in WW1 put pieces of decaying wood on their helmets; the glow helped them avoid comrades in nighttime trenches.
In WW2 fire wardens covered timber stacks to prevent enemy aircraft spotting them.
Keeping the wood moist (but not saturated) and at a temperature of between 10 and 25 degrees C should maximise light output.
Will it attack gateposts and fences?
How many varieties of Amarillaria are there in the UK?
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