Fungus on shrubs

Asked February 27, 2018, 7:51 PM EST

I have a white fungus(?) on my lilac brushes and on the hedge around my back yard. I was told that it was due to in adequate air circulation and too much shade. I would like an expert to look at these pictures to see if it can be identified and what remedy might solve the issue before I start to plant replacement shrubs.

Shiawassee County Michigan

3 Responses

This is actually an interesting organism called lichen (pronounced "lichen"). They do not harm plants and are commonly found on dead or dying plant, rocks, soil, tombstones and undisturbed places. They are also an indicator of clean air. Here is more information about lichen:

There may also be scale insects on the stems but it's hard to confirm this from the photos. Removal of the dead plants will also remove this infestation though. Keep the replacement plants healthy to discourage possible future infestations as vigorous plants are less likely to suffer damage from this pest.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to contact us again if you have further questions.

I did some further checking and noticed that the branches that this white substance shows up on do have buds for our lilac bushes so they must not be dead. Is there another option or the possibilities of sending a sample that might confirm what this might be?

Dave Minarik


Yes, it's definitely always good to look at samples in person. Here are a couple options:
1.) Since your submittal form indicates you're from Shiawassee County, you could drop off a sample at the MSU Extension office in Genesee County. They are located at 605 N Saginaw St., Ste. 1a, Flint, MI 48502 with office hours from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm.
2.) Drop off the sample or mail a sample to the MSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic in East Lansing. Their location, sample submittal form, and costs are all listed on their website:

Thank you!