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List of garden plant diseases : Honey fungus

Honey fungus is the most serious fungal disease of trees and shrubs. It moves through the soil between woody plants, invading them through the roots. The growths in the soil resemble black boot-laces, hence the alternative name ‘boot-lace fungus’.

Affected plants usually have the root system destroyed, causing them to wilt and die. Yellowish mushrooms are sometimes produced at soil level beside the trunk. The fungus spreads from old stumps to living plants and it is very common in old woodland and ditches.

Some plants can be affected but live on for years, resisting the fungus, and only succumbing when other pressures such as summer drought make the burden too great. Single trees and shrubs die off over a period of years.

Remove old stumps and dead plants. Do not plant near the site of old ditches or use resistant species. Susceptible plants include privet, apple, griselinia, cypresses, lilac and willow. Reasonably resistant plants include hawthorn, yew, ash, beech, laurel, box, clematis, honeysuckle and holly.

A barrier of heavy polythene placed vertically in a 60 centimetres deep trench between an infected area and new planting is considered to be of some assistance.

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