Ganoderma aka Butt Rot of Palms

What is this Ganoderma we are hearing about?

Ganoderma is a fungus that rots the lower part (4-5ft) of a palm trunk. Early symptoms of the disease are mild to severe wilting of the palm fronds. The tree may be a slow grower, have off-color fronds and show general decline. The fungal disease is commonly diagnosed when a mushroom like growth called a “conk” appears on the trunk of the tree. This fungus is then spread by air and water through the spores which are released from the conk.

Ganoderma on a palm tree
Example of Ganoderma on a palm tree

Ganoderma is widespread throughout South Florida.

Can an infected tree be cured?

Fungicides have not been proven to have any effect on Ganoderma. As a result, there is currently no known treatment or cure for the disease.

What can we do to get rid of it?

The palm should be removed as soon as possible once the conk(s) appear on the trunk. Removal of the entire tree, stump and root system is recommended. The diseased section should be placed in a legal landfill or incinerated. The soil where the palm was planted may also need to be removed because planting a new tree in the affected soil is not recommended.

If an infected tree is not removed the fungus can be spread to other trees. The rot inside the tree renders it unstable and increases the chances that the tree could fail and fall on its own. This can jeopardize the safety of both people and property.

What can we do to prevent it?

There is currently no know method for preventing the disease or curing the fungus once a tree has been infected. There are no known chemicals or fungicides that either prevent or cure the disease.

For more detailed information on Ganoderma Butt Rot of Palms please refer to University of Florida Extension IFAS Fact Sheet PP-54.