Butt rot fungus threatening Venice palm trees - WFLA News Channel 8

Butt rot fungus threatening Venice palm trees

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Tree experts worry the Ganoderma butt rot fungus could kill palm trees like this one. Tree experts worry the Ganoderma butt rot fungus could kill palm trees like this one.
City officials say there's not enough money in the budget to replace these trees if they die. City officials say there's not enough money in the budget to replace these trees if they die.
Example of mushroom-shaped 'conks' on trunk of tree.  They're a symptom of butt rot fungus. Example of mushroom-shaped 'conks' on trunk of tree. They're a symptom of butt rot fungus.
VENICE, FL (WFLA) -

The city of Venice is known for its beautiful palm trees that line downtown, but officials say these beautiful plants are in danger.

A deadly fungus is killing many of these palms and officials say there's no cure to stop it.

Driving along Venice Avenue, it's not hard to spot these towering palm trees.

There are many different species of palms here in Venice, including 69 Canary Island Date Palms.

But Public Works director John Veneziano says those numbers are dwindling."We had about 90 five years ago, so we've lost 22 of them," Veneziano said. Another palm near the entrance of downtown is about to die.

The culprit is the Ganoderma Butt Rot fungus. It degrades the trunk of the tree, completely killing it.

Bob Mantkowski with Venice Tree Farms said, "It's a shame because there's nothing you can do about it."

Mantkowski says by the time the fungus is spotted, it's too late. And it's a problem he's seen in the area for decades.

Mantkowski said, "In most cases, they always took the tree out, took the palm out and didn't do anything else with it."

And that's all city officials can do. Veneziano says replacing these trees and the soil costs around $6,000 a piece - money the city doesn't have.

City officials are now keeping their sights on saving the remaining trees downtown.

"We're just trying to prevent the disease from spreading and taking just a wait and see attitude. See if we get one tree after another, or at some point maybe it will stop," Veneziano said. "Eventually if we lose enough trees we'll have to look at planting something different."

For now the city can only afford to remove the dead trees and then wait, hoping the worst of the disease is behind them.

University of Florida researchers say the disease is spread by spores that are released by the fungus, and it can impact other species of palms as well.

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