Soft brown mold/fungus on English Laurel hedge

Asked September 26, 2020, 9:22 AM EDT

Hello! I have an English Laurel hedge that is about 12ft. tall. One of the trees in the hedge has a brown mold/fungus at the base of a major branch, as well as fungal conks (?) growing on several branches. All of the leaves on this branch are dead. What is this, and how do I remove it without killing the rest of the tree? Thank you so much in advance!!

District of Columbia County District of Columbia

1 Response

This appears to be an evergreen Privet (Ligustrum, either Waxleaf or Japanese...they're hard to tell apart) as opposed to an English Laurel, but in either case, the actions to take will be the same. All you can do is to prune out the dead and dying branches/stems, cutting all the way back down to the ground (or as close as you can go). The fungus seen on the outside of the bark is a type of wood-decay fungus, meaning that it is gradually destroying the wood from the inside out. There isn't any practical fungicide preventative treatment at this point or even going forward, as these fungi target already-dead or dying wood. Instead, keep plants as stress-free as possible so they're not as prone to dieback via irrigation during dry spells in summer and autumn to minimize these opportunistic colonizers. Here are our watering tips for trees and shrubs, if useful: