Fungus(?) on trunk of crepe myrtle?

Asked July 7, 2017, 8:43 AM EDT

My mom has a crepe myrtle that was purchased (young) and planted probably 5 years. It was slow to take off because their ground is horrible, but we've been amending the soil every year, adding compost to the bed and the last couple of years it has looked great. My father also LOVES mulch, so there is mulch around the crepe myrtle. Last weekend (after a long dry spell), I noticed this whitish stuff on a couple of the shoots, near the ground. The consistency is soft, like pudding. I assumed it was a fungus and sprayed with Neem oil (which I think of more for insects than fungus, but it said it was a fungicide). The white stuff essentially "rinsed off". I think the stem looked a bit swollen where the white had been. I have not been back to check on the plant yet. But I wanted to submit the photo to try to determine what it is, and what I should be doing about it. Thank you in advance!

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

This is a type of slime mold (also called 'dog vomit fungus'). This is a harmless fungus that feeds on bacteria and other organisms that are found in mulch. These fungi will not harm your landscape plants. These can be left alone or scooped into a garbage bag and put out for trash pick-up. No other control is necessary.

Regarding the mulch, be sure to move it several inches away from the base of the tree so it is not touching the trunk. Too much moisture right as the base of the trunk can lead to crown rot diseases.

Also, we do not recommend spraying any fungicides until a problem is accurately diagnosed. We are always here to help, Monday-Friday, with any plant or insect questions you may have, and getting an accurate diagnosis can help you save money and time (avoiding application of unnecessary products).