May 8, 1998

Butt Rots: Have You Checked Lately?

Let's clear up any personal anxieties right away. These butt rots won't affect your own posterior. The term "butt rot" refers to decay fungi that attack the base ("butt") and roots of trees. All sorts of trees. In fact, butt and root rots may be the most damaging but least understood tree diseases. In this column, you'll meet some butt rotters and find out how and why they do their thing.

Larder Beetles

The common household invader pictured here is on the move, creating an annoyance in infected homes. See the article on page 101, June 27, 1997 issue of the Horticulture and Home Pest News, for details. ( Image at left is from A Manual of Common Beetles of Eastern North America. )

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 1998 issue, p. 53.

Rhizosphaera Needle Cast

Once again, many blue spruce samples showing signs of Rhizosphaera needle cast having been arriving in the Plant Disease Clinic. This fungal needle disease causes browning and early loss of needles. Trees of any age may become infected, especially those that are stressed. Symptoms are most obvious on second-year (inner) needles. Diseased needles turn purplish brown and fall from the tree during summer and autumn.. Small black fruiting structures (pycnidia) of the fungus can be seen in the pore-like openings (stomata) of infected needles.

Perennials for Shady Areas

For some gardeners, shady areas are problem spots in the home garden. Many plants, however, perform well in shady areas. Selecting and planting shade tolerant annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs can turn a shady site into an attractively landscaped area.