New Fungus Among Us

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    jim grant
    The sun was streaking through the limbs of this Torrey Pine tree at the cliffs........

    Local trees just can't catch a break.

    First, there was a mysterious vandal hacking down trees in Golden Gate Park and the Richmond. Now, there's a fungus attacking them.

    The Department of Public Works and the Urban Forestry Council are warning residents to keep a watchful eye on pine trees growing on their property and sidewalks. There's been an outbreak of Pine Pitch Cankers, which are exactly as disgusting as they sounds. The affliction is caused by the fungus Fusarium circinatum and causes dead limbs, dead roots, beetle infestations, and can even cause parts of the plant to topple.

    Monterey Pine is the most susceptible breed, and as luck would have it, The City is full of Monterey Pines.

    The University of California describes what to look out for:

    "infections (lesions) that can encircle or girdle branches, exposed roots, and the main stems (trunks) of pine trees. The tips of girdled branches wilt as a result of obstructed water flow, causing the needles to turn yellow, and then red. The fascicles (needle clusters) eventually fall off, leaving bare branch ends. ... The tree produces copious amounts of resin (pitch) in response to an infection. ... Honey-colored, resin-soaked wood is also a characteristic symptom of the disease and can be observed by peeling back the bark near a lesion. Infected trees are often attacked by engraver beetles, which cause the death of additional branches, tree tops, and the entire tree."

    In short, yuck.

    If you see a tree exhibiting signs of Pine Pitch Cankers, do not approach it or make eye contact. Call 311 to report this malady and the city's arboreal experts will attend to the sick plant.

    Matt Baume has never been attacked by an engraver beetle.