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Is this moss parasitic?

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:25 am
by dustyboot
Someone told me the moss/algae/something on this tree is making it sick. It seems to be the case, as the moss covered areas seem to be dry/dead. And they also pointed out that sprouting at the base of the trunk is another sign of sickness.

Then I did some web searching and read some contradictory information, that moss/lichen is normal, etc.

Now I'm confused. Is the growth on the tree normal? And if not, is there a way to remove it so the tree can be healthy again?

Re: Is this moss parasitic?

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:50 am
by rainbowgardener
It is not moss, it is lichen, quite a different organisms (plural because a lichen is actually a combination of a fungus and an algae).

It is not a parasite on the tree. Lichens may rest directly on the bark or be attached shallowly to it, but they do not enter the inner bark where food is transported, and hence do not rob the tree of nourishment. But it is not a good sign. Lichen grows better on bark that is loosened and it grows better where there are no leaves.... i.e. dead limbs. When part of the tree is dead or dying, it is easier for the lichen to colonize it. They don't cause the problem, just take advantage of it.

I don't know that the low growing sprouts are a sign of sickness; I think trees just do that. But overall, your tree is not looking healthy. You need to figure out why (not the lichen).

Re: Is this moss parasitic?

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:41 am
by dustyboot
Ah, thank you for clarifying everything! Any pointers on what might be the next step?

Re: Is this moss parasitic?

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:53 am
by rainbowgardener
I was hoping someone else would jump in here. I don't know why your tree is dying. A couple more pictures of the overall tree, showing the living parts and the dead parts might help.

Do you have any thoughts on anything that might have happened to your tree? Drought? Root damage? Insects you have noticed?

Re: Is this moss parasitic?

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:53 am
by imafan26
lichen also appears normally on some trees. Especially trees in a moist humid environment. They are parasitic in the sense that they use the tree for support and while the algae and the fungi have a symbiotic relationship, they don't help the tree at all.

There is definitely deadwood that needs to be removed.

It looks familiar. I am not too concerned by the cracks in the trunk, some trees do that. I am concerned by the deadwood and poor top growth. Usually when I see that, I look at what is going on with the roots and work my way up. It is suckering so the tree is trying to live.

What kind of tree is it and where do you live?