A Technical Report from The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories
Palms are an extremely important group of plants for the landscape industry in many of the coastal areas in the southeastern and southwestern United States. In Florida, the most destructive problem for palms is Ganoderma butt rot, which is caused by the wood decay fungus Ganoderma zonatum. This fungus species is native to the southeastern United States, and is thought to have coevolved with cabbage palm, Sabal palmetto. It likely has a native, geographic distribution to the cabbage palm, although in the U.S. it has only been reported in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Outside of its native range it has been documented in southern California, likely being introduced on infected plant material from the southeastern U.S. When Ganoderma zonatum is diagnosed, palms should be removed immediately. This is because the fungus breaks down the lignin and cellulose of the lower trunk, predisposing palms to windthrow, and failure and potentially damaging property and life.