Read about if lichen harm trees. The title of this blog has come about as a result of a similar question that has been asked by our customers on a number of occasions.
Trees in most property owner’s gardens will have a good covering of moss and lichen. Many concerns are raised as to whether this is hurting the tree and what if anything can be done about it.
This Blog post will aim to shed a bit of light on the situation and answer some of those questions.
So, what is moss and lichen? And does moss and lichen harm trees?
In basic terms they are green growths that may appear to be infesting the trunk and branches of your trees.
Another similar looking culprit can be algae.
In reality they are all quite different. They are sometimes confused or mis-identified as fungi (see our fungi blog) but this is not exactly true.
Moss and algae are more like miniature, non-flowering plants. Lichen is more of a mixture between fungi and algae.
When Lichens are on rocks they use acids to eat at the rock which is an early stage in the process of converting rock to soil.
What Moss, algae and lichen have in common is that they all like damp or wet environments to grow in.
When on trees, they get their water and nutrients from the atmosphere rather than the trees they are growing on.
This is why they can be often found in gardens that are damp and humid, such as in the Waitakeres.
Does lichen harm trees? No…
In general, the presence of these organisms on your trees is unlikely to be hurting them as they are not taking anything from the tree to survive.
However, the presence of moss, algae and lichen on your trees might be telling you something.
Often a healthy tree will be able to fend of an infestation as part of its natural defenses.
If you tree is stressed or in some way unhealthy these defense may not be working properly and the tree loses its ability to fight back.
A healthy tree can coexist with these organisms without problems, if your tree is already suffering their presence may be more of a hindrance to its recovery.
So, what should you do about moss, algae and lichen?
Look for other symptoms of stress and ask yourself the following questions; Is the tree dying back at all?
What does the foliage look like in terms of colour and density? Is there any dead wood or fungi present?
What are the growing conditions like? You can improve the health of the tree by addressing any negative environmental factors you find.
You can read our mulching blog to see a great way of caring for your tree naturally.
In extreme cases you can try manually removing the moss or lichen.
However, this is attacking the symptom and not the cause so it is likely to return and without other help the tree will probably continue to deteriorate.
In some cases pruning to allow more air flow through the canopy can help.
Further reading can be found at the following links:
Check out all our “How To Provide Tree Maintenance Series” instructional guides. These arborist guides are aimed for tree owners who are keen to get their hands dirty.
- How to provide tree work for trees blocking your view…
- How to trim a hedge the right way for the best results…
- How to care for your trees in the summer heat…
- How to mulch a tree and take care of your trees…
- Best time of year to prune large trees is now…
- How to prune a tree and how you can manage the condition of your trees…
- How to plant a tree guide with plenty of helpful advice…
Rossy and the Team.
Rossy | 021 508 806 | treecareauckland.co.nz