Japanese Maple – Fungal Growth at Graft Union

Q: Last year I took out a river birch and in late November planted in its place a Japanese maple. Over spring it didn’t really leaf out as I expected. This morning I noticed this growth at the base of the trunk about 3-4 inches from the ground. Can you tell what this is and is the tree in peril?

A: This doesn’t look good. The growth looks to me like a fungal mass that has rotted the inside of the trunk. Possibly it infected the union where your Japanese maple was originally grafted years ago.

If the tree is in decline for this reason, I don’t think there’s much you can do to save it.

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