Palms make Florida a paradise to the eye and spirit. Unfortunately, there is a “little devil” of a disease that attacks our palms. Ganoderma Butt Rot!
This fungus needs a host to attach and a suitable environment to develop. The literature* indicates that it is a disease of mature, woody palms only. Young palms are not affected. This disease can affect nearly all types of palms and is fairly common. To date, no common denominator has been identified as a precursor of the disease. In addition, there are no fungicide recommendations for this disease.
Signs & Symptoms
Ganoderma Butt Rot is a very prevalent in the southern half of Florida. It is a death sentence to any palm it attacks. This fungus is doing all types of bad things to the palm host. It destroys the woody tissue and water-conducting tissue of the palm. This damage first shows as wilting and off-colored foliage. Initially the symptoms appear to correct the problem. Palm weevils may also be suspected and heart drenches may be applied to deal with this palm adversary. After these remedies fail, Ganoderma becomes the prime suspect. The palm decline may take years to fully develop. In the final stage of this disease, a conk may appear at the base of the palm trunk which is the definitive proof that the palm does indeed have Ganoderma Butt Rot disease.
Ganoderma Butt Rot disease is spread primarily through pruning tools. Saws and loppers spread the disease from tree to tree even when there are no symptoms present. What this usually means is that most of the trees on any given piece of property will be infected and, over time, succumb to the disease.
Great care should be taken when removing a conk from the base of a tree. These conks can produce millions of spores that can infect other palms. Place the conks in a plastic bag that goes to a landfill. Don’t allow the conks to be placed in a composting unit, as the spores are likely to survive.
As soon as possible after a proper diagnosis of Ganoderma Butt Rot has been made, the tree should be removed and disposed of in a landfill. This tree should not be ground up for mulch as it may spread the disease to wherever the mulch is used. Remove as much of the stump and roots as possible. Do not re-plant in this area with a palm as the pathogen will probably remain in the soil and re-infect the new palm, repeating the cycle of death.