Rotten luck

One of the trees infected with the Ganoderma fungus.

One of the trees infected with the Ganoderma fungus.

If you find yourself at the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center in the next week or so, you may notice a couple of large oak trees coming down on either side of the building.  Unfortunately, these two trees have succumbed to a root-rotting fungus in the Ganoderma genus.  This fungus affects the ability of a tree’s roots to take in water and nutrients, often resulting in yellowing leaves and a thin canopy.  It also causes the wood in the tree’s roots and butt (the flare at its base) to become soft or spongey, which inhibits the tree’s ability to remain anchored in the soil and presents a potential hazard in a storm.  

The fungus has been present in these trees for at least seven years, but it has now advanced to a level that requires the removal of the trees.  You may have happened upon the very conspicuous fruiting bodies of these fungi (called “conks”) while walking past the building over the summer. 

While it’s never exciting to lose older trees, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy began planting replacement trees three years ago in anticipation of these trees’ removal.  More trees will be planted in this area in 2009.   The City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works will be removing the diseased trees within the next few weeks, and hopefully one of the next times you stop in to the cafe for lunch you’ll see some new trees with their bark guards, ready to become part of the landscape.

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