The Q&A Archives: Identifying Sponge-like Growth on Pine Bark

Question: I have two evergreens, one on either side of the house. They came with the house, they are quite tall and neither looks very robust - in fact their bark looks like it is shredding -- now I see a spongelike thing developing and wrapping around various branches on the trees. This thing literally looks like pieces of yellow spongelike material have wrapped itself around or is hanging from branches on the trees. What is it? Is it bad. If it is bad, can I do anything about it? As a matter of fact, now that i think about it -- after you answer my question, where is the best place to get general info about caring for these trees, that is if it isn't already too late. Thanks. Mark Stoller Lisle, IL

Answer: It sounds from your description like your trees have been infected by a disease--the "sponge-like" things you see are the fruiting bodies, or reproductive structures, of the fungus. It's hard to say exactly what the disease is without knowing what type of evergreen you have. For example, if you have cedars, it may be cedar-apple rust. Signs of this disease include orangish galls on the branches, which become quite gelatinous when wet. Your local nursery may be able to help you identify both the type of evergreen and the disease. Or you can try your county Extension agent (ph# 708/653-4114). Both should be able to help you with instructions for care, once you have identified the species of tree.

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