Honey fungus is a fungus, that can attack a wide variety of plants, ranging from trees to bulbs.
The first signs of honey fungus may be dying or stressed plants, this is caused by the fungus attacking the roots of mainly woody plants.
Other symptoms may appear as discoloured foliage, premature leaf fall, dieback, splitting bark, and weeping resin.
You may also notice honey-coloured fan shaped growths of the Honey Fungus appearing in the soil around the base of the plant.
If you pull the plant up, there will probably be dark brown rhizomorphs which look like brown to black boot laces.
The fungus is spread by means of these rhizomorphs.
Rhizomorphs can vary in size, and are usually found in the top 150-200mm (6”-8”) of the soil.
They have a black or reddish outer layer and white or pink in the inner layer, and can spread up to 1 m (39”) a year.
In advanced cases the growths appear above the soil level.
If you have reason to suspect this disease and the fungal growths are not obvious, try peeling the bark of an area of trunk/root just below soil level.
If it is present, it will appear as a creamy-white fungus with a mushroom like smell.
The obvious sign is when fungal toadstool like growths appears in late summer or autumn.
There is no effective chemical control, therefore remove and burn as much as possible of the infected root system to avoid it spreading any further.
In the event any affected tree stumps cannot be physically moved, try digging a trench at least 300 mm (12”) deep around the stump and place a vertical barrier of thick polythene in it, this may reduce the spread of the fungus.
For smaller areas a degree of control can be achieved by removing the top 600-900mm (24"-36") of soil and replacing it with infection free soil.
Healthy plants are less likely to be attacked by Honey Fungus compared to plants which are weak and growing in poor condition, so try and keep your plants in good health by regular mulching and feeding.
Some plants are more susceptible to the disease than others.
The following is a list of the more susceptible plants; Apple, Apricot, Birch, Cedar,Cherry, Cotoneaster, Forsythia, Lilac, Malus, Peach, Peony, Plum, Privet,Rhododendron,Ribes (currants), Roses,Willow and Wisteria.
When replanting the affected area select plants that are resistant to Honey Fungus.