Important Wood Decays

This is a supplement to the main Wood Decay page.

Here are simply lists, with annotations, of some important decays with a focus on North America. They are in 3 categories: stem decays of living trees, root and butt rots, and primarily saprobic decays (i.e., decaying dead trees).

Stem Decays

Some important decays of stems of living trees
FungusNamesDecay typeCommon hostsComments
Dichomitus squalens(disease) red ray rotwhite pocket rot (often indistinct pockets)Pinus ponderosa = Polyporus anceps; enters branch stubs; decays heartwood in radial streaks; FIDL; Rocky Mountain Region Field Guide Entry
Echinodontium tinctorium(fungus) Indian paint fungus;
(disease) rust-red stringy rot
white rotmany non-pine conifersenters branch stubs, dead twigs; one conk represents very extensive decay
Fomitopsis officinalis(fungus) quinine fungusbrown rotwas once a major source of medicinal quinine
Inonotus glomeratuswhite rotAcer spp. (maples), Fagus grandifolia (American beech)small "clinker conks" (not the actual fruiting) in stubs that won't heal
Inonotus obliquus(fungus) clinker conk; cinder conkwhite rotBetula spp. (birches)large "clinker conks" are sterile; real conks appear after tree dies
Phellinus igniarius(fungus) false tinder fungus;
(disease) white trunk rot
white rotmany hardwoodsvery common and important in eastern North America and Europe
Phellinus tremulae(disease) white trunk rotwhite rotaspens (Populus spp.)very similar to Phellinus igniarius; FIDL
Porodaedalea pini(disease) red ring rotwhite pocket rotmany coniferspunk knots
Stem decays of spruce and fir in the Rocky MountainsFIDL
Stem decays of Abies spp. (true firs)FIDL

Root and Butt Rots

Some important decays of roots and butts of living trees
FungusNamesDecay typeCommon hostsComments
Armillaria (many species)(fungus) honey mushroom;
(disease) Armillaria root rot; shoestring root rot
white rotmany hardwoods and conifers, depending on the pathogen speciesoften associated with stress in hardwoods; FIDL
Heterobasidion spp.(disease) annosus root disease, Heterobasidion root diseasewhite rot, may be pitted or laminatedmany conifers
Onnia spp.(disease) red root rot, tomentosus root rotwhite pocket rotPicea, Abies, Larix, Pinus, Pseudotsuga, Thuja, and Tsugadecay preceded by red stain

Saprobic Decays

Decaying dead trees or dead portions of live trees
FungusNamesDecay typeCommon hostsComments
Trametes versicolor(fungus) turkey-tail (after the concentric zones of color)white rotmany hardwoodsannual
Cryptoporus volvatus(fungus) pouch funguswhite rotmany conifersOne of the first colonizers of dead conifers, fruiting as early as one year after death. Seems to primarily feed on phloem and cambium, although it is said to decay sapwood also. Has a cover beneath the pore layer until maturity (the genus name means of course "hidden pores"; annual
Trichaptum abietinumpitted white rotmany conifersLike most Trichaptum spp., the active margin and pore surface have more or less purple color; annual
Fomitopsis pinicola(fungus) red belt fungusbrown rotmany conifersProduces sometimes thick mycelial mats in shrinkage checks in advanced stages. Can also cause butt rot or stem decay of living trees in some areas; perennial