Should You Remove Mushrooms From Around a Tree?

Mushrooms have different uses for humans, but that’s not all they do. Fungi are a critical part of the ecosystem and provide trees with many different benefits.

You should not remove mushrooms from around a tree. Mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with plants. However, if they start appearing on the trunk and roots of your tree, this might indicate that the tree is suffering from a fungal disease.

In this article, I will explore the relationship of mushrooms with trees, both good and bad. Find out here if you should remove those conks or not!

Why You Shouldn’t Remove Mushrooms from Around a Tree

Generally, mushrooms have three significant classifications according to their use. Some are cultivated as edible, while others are used for medicinal purposes. In the wild, they perform essential ecosystem functions.

Contrary to what some might think, mushrooms are not plants. Fungi were once considered plants until the ecologist Robert Whittaker proposed to distinguish them from the Plant Kingdom and labeled them decomposers during the middle of the 20th century. 

Aside from the mushroom’s lack of chlorophyll and leaves, one major difference between fungi from plants is how they obtain their food. Plants produce their food through photosynthesis.

On the other hand, fungi get their food by releasing digestive chemicals to absorb nutrients and feed in the environment. 

You might have noticed some mushrooms growing around a tree and wonder whether one must be alarmed by their proliferation. Fortunately, you should not be concerned at all.

Mushrooms decompose organic matter to produce their food. Dead plants and animal matter contain complex organic substrates on which fungi like mushrooms process and transform into simpler nutrients. 

This mechanism of decomposition by mushrooms makes them a saprotroph or saprobe. It provides symbiotic relationships with nearby plants as they exchange nutrients and water through mycorrhizae, which also improves the host plant’s ability to absorb these components.

The function of mushrooms is integral in cultivating coffee forests, as they recycle nutrients from waste materials surrounding trees. Mushroom growth on your lawn can indicate rich and quality soil.

Now we know mushrooms are in the ecosystem, but what could be the dangers of removing them? 

Well, removing mushrooms will not harm a tree itself or the soil surrounding it. However, massive mushroom harvesting can decrease the number of spores released into nature.

This could lead to low reproduction rates of mushrooms, which will reduce the nutrients your lawn can get.

How to Know if Your Tree Has a Fungal Disease

Before going further with this, it is essential to note mushrooms are just the visible part of fungi. Most of the fungus is actually underground, forming a network called mycelium. The stem and the cap-like head structure of mushrooms are the “flower” or “fruit” of fungi, which serves as the main agent for their reproduction.

Mushrooms are beneficial when they grow around a tree. However, you should be concerned once it begins sprouting on the trunks

Fungal conks, or the mushrooms that grow on the tree itself, indicate that there is rot within the tree. These conks might appear much later than the initial infection of a tree. Due to this, you should take note of some early signs of fungal tree diseases.

Signs of Fungal Tree Diseases

There are several ways a tree can acquire a fungal disease. Fungi can enter the tree tissue via mechanical wounds, root injuries, and grafted roots. Insects, birds, and airborne spores usually transport these organisms.

Fungal tree disease is said to be a disease of old trees.

Here are some general signs to look out for to determine a fungal conk on a tree in its early stage:

Abnormalities on the Foliage

Some of these abnormalities can include slow leaf growth, chlorosis (discoloration of the leaves), leaf spots, and undersized foliage. As soon as you notice these signs, this can indicate a fungal infection on your tree.

Significant Decrease in Wood Strength

Branches and twigs of an infected tree can be brittle when suffering from a fungal tree disease. In addition to this, the trunk could be damaged and start to decay, lean, or bend.

Boring Insects Inhabit the Tree

Boring insects, like carpenter ants, may begin to dig their way through the tree. Once the ants have infested the tree, they can leave an opening on the tree trunk, exposing it to fungal spores and other kinds of infection.

Types of Mushroom Conks

In the worst-case scenario, if fungal tree diseases are not treated early, mushrooms will appear on the tree’s trunk and roots.

Here’s a list of some common mushroom conks for you to be aware of:

  • Armillaria mellea (oak root fungus)
  • Ganoderma applanatum (artist’s conk)
  • Ganoderma polychromum, formerly G. lucidum (varnish fungus)
  • Laetiporus gilbertsonii L. conifericola (sulfur fungus)
  • Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom)
  • Schizophyllum commune (common split gill fungus) 
  • Stereum species (parchment fungus)
  • Trametes hirsuta (hairy turkey tail fungus)
  • Trametes versicolor (turkey tail fungus)
  • Phellinus igniarius and other Phellinus spp.
  • Biscogniauxia mediterranea, B. atropunctata
  • Annulohypoxylon spp.
  • Oxyporus latemarginatus

These fungi all produce a fruiting structure, which is mushrooms. They usually grow on the roots and trunks of trees and vary in size, color, and shape. While they can vary in appearance, they all attack the same tree part: the trunk.

The trunk is mainly composed of sapwood and heartwood. Sapwood is the damper, softer, younger, and light-colored rings in the trunk. Heartwood is located in the innermost layer surrounded by sapwood, and is harder, darker, and older. These parts of the trunk are essential in the transportation of water to the other branches of the tree.

Oftentimes, mushrooms will start to appear only in the later stages of the infection. Sooner or later, once these fungal species penetrate the trunk, they will cause rot and decay. This will quickly spread to the different parts of the tree unless prevented early.

Dealing With Fungal Tree Diseases

Most often than not, there is no way of saving a tree once it is fully infected with fungus. At the same time, fungi can be hard to eliminate, especially if they have already been around a tree for a long time.

Still, there are a few ways to lessen the impact of fungus on a tree:

Prune Trees Properly

Cuts on a tree can lead to large wounds and be entry points for fungal infection. Try to make tree cuts outside the branch bark ridges (the section that connects a branch to the main tree trunk) to facilitate wound closure.

Remove Infected or Dead Parts Immediately

Dead parts of trees are ideal spots for fungi to reproduce. The same applies to infected portions of the tree, so make sure to remove them as soon as you find one on or around it.

Leave an Open Wound Exposed

A wound dressing may promote wood rot on trees beneath the dressing. It is best to let the wound heal on its own, as dressings do not help on speeding up wound closure. 

Consult Tree Experts for Fungal Management

Professional advice is always recommended when dealing with fungal tree diseases. Contact an expert to deal with a fungus attack as soon as possible.

Since fungal infection in trees is rarely treatable, it’s better to opt for prevention instead of cure. This video goes extensively on how you can prevent fungal diseases such as apple scabs, cedar apple rust, and powdery mildew:


Mushrooms are not plants but fungi species. Fungi play a vital role as decomposers of organic waste materials in the environment.

However, fungi can also be infectious. Mushrooms appearing on the base and trunk of a tree commonly indicate that it is suffering from a fungal tree disease and may be rotting inside. 

By this time, you can expect the infected tree to reach its demise shortly after. You can slow down the tree’s decay, but there is no guarantee that you can save it. It’s better to prevent these infections before they happen.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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