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Phellinus noxius - brown root rot

  • Phellinus noxius fruiting body; it is flat against the tree bole and described as 'resupinate'
    Phellinus noxius fruiting body; it is flat against the tree bole and described as 'resupinate'
  • A rough stem stocking around the bole of a tree may be the first sign of Phellinus root rot.
    A rough stem stocking around the bole of a tree may be the first sign of Phellinus root rot.

General information

The disease brown root rot is caused by the fungal pathogen Phellinus noxius. The fungus attacks tree roots causing decay, which cuts off water and nutrient supply to the crown resulting in tree death. It is a natural component of rainforests, and has become a problem in forest plantations, fruit orchards and the urban environment.

Scientific name

Phellinus noxius

Hosts

Over 200 species of native and introduced trees and shrubs are hosts to Phellinus noxius. They include palms, fig, poinciana, leopard tree, avocado and hoop pine.

Disease symptoms

Wilting followed by often rapid death in young trees. In older trees, leaves turn chlorotic gradually, the crown thins and the tree eventually dies.

Fungus description

A characteristic ´stocking´ forms on roots and the tree trunk, which has a white margin when actively growing, turning cinnamon brown with age. Not all infected trees display a stocking. The fruiting bodies only develop after extended periods of rain. The resupinate form is flat and grows flush with the bark. The bracket fruiting bodies are leathery or woody and hard.

Distribution

In Australia it occurs along the east coast from Cape York to northern NSW. It occurs naturally in rainforest but has spread to trees in commercial plantation forests, fruit orchards and amenity plantings in urban areas.

Spread

It usually spreads by root to root contact, and potentially with air-borne basidiospores produced by fruiting bodies. Stumps from infected trees are sources of infection and the fungus can remain in the soil for up to 60 years.

Management
  • Remove the entire infected tree and as much roots as possible. Dispose of infected tree by composting:
    • Compost for at least 16 weeks, so the piles reach 75ºC, and turn over regularly.
    • Sieve material that is greater than 18 mm out of the final compost before using.
  • Install root barriers around the infected site to reduce the rate of spread.
  • Do not use infected trees for mulch without composting as described above.

Planting in infested sites without removing the infection source may result in the rapid death of new plantings.

Further information

If you have found Phellinus noxius on council land contact Brisbane City Council:
Ph: 07 3403 8888

For more information please contact our Customer Service Centre .

Phellinus noxius root rot - a detailed fact sheet. (PDF, 351.0KB)

Last updated 15 October 2012