Firewood – Attacked byFungus

Q: We use a lot of wood for heat and have woodpiles with logs waiting to be split.

This summer our woodpile was attacked by a very aggressive fungus. In short order it covered the wood and sucked all of the moisture out of the logs. They became so light in a matter of weeks, that they were not suitable for firewood.

What is this fungus? Any advise on stopping its spread?

A: Do you like playing the word game “Dictionary” – where the leader chooses an odd word from a dictionary and players try to guess its definition?

Here are a few puzzling words for you: saprophyte, saprotroph, Hydnopolyporus palmatus, Grifola frondosa and Sparassis spathulata.

A saprophyte is an organism that consumes the tissue of dead things. Saprotroph is the modern word for saprophyte. And Hydnopolyporus palmatus, Grifola frondosa and Sparassis spathulata are species of wood-decaying fungi that make large fruiting bodies on dead wood.

You have a lot of different saprotrophic fungi attacking your wood pile but the reason they are there is because the wood got wet and stayed wet for a while. Under such conditions, fungi have a great time colonizing firewood. When they absorb enough energy from the decomposed wood tissue, they “fruit” by sending out the white structures you see on the logs.

It’s true that you only saw the fruiting bodies for a short while in summer but the damage to the wood was being done for many months previous.

My experience is that decayed wood doesn’t burn very well, so I’d throw away the affected firewood.

Any wood that seems sound should be stored under cover so it stays completely dry. This will stop the progress of decay that may already be started.

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