grayish cement-like mold?

cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)April 6, 2013

Hi! I've been searching the forum and other web sights trying to see if I can assess what is growing on the plants in my front yard. It is a mold or fungus like growth. Looks like someone splattered thin cement on the branches. When dry it is gray, when wet it has a slight green cast to it. All the inside branches of my bushes are not producing leaves or flowers. I thought I'd found it when I saw a pic of lichens. But, mine is not at all 3D. It is very flat, hugging the bark in small spots that grow together to form larger areas as time goes by. it started on the lilac close to the house, it was on that for a couple of years, as the lilacs inside branches declined. I figured the area to be too shady, maybe not enough air circulating. Now it has invaded my plum, father out in the front yard and my forsythia on the other side of the front. If it is indeed lichens, and they are not harmful, what can I do to help out these plants before I lose everything in my front yard? The others should have no problems with air circulation and seemed healthy otherwise. Is there another type of harmful fungus or mold that looks somewhat similar to lichens? Does that "Bayer" tree and shrub stuff really do any good? or something similar? I really cannot see any other problems with these plants!
Thank you

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Catey, we really need to see pictures. No one can responsibly recommend any kind of treatment or care until an identification can be made. You might have to clip an affected branch to be able to take a good picture of it.

The Bayer products should never, ever be used unless you know what the problem is. Their use can be very counterproductive.

It is interesting to note that the three plants you've mentioned are notorious for problems. :-(

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:50AM
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cateyanne, I do not believe that lichens are harmful.
I do not believe that 'Spanish Moss' is harmful either.
But I have seen many associations of the latter with bare and insect damaged limbs of oaks.
Enough to wonder if what is happening to your plants might be an association of the "harmless" lichen with a harmful agent.
I would be tempted to remove the lichen on one part of an affected tree and observe whether there is improvement.
You will find this interesting.
There is the possibility that something else is causing the decline of the plants in your landscape.
In that case it will be worth your time to systematically eliminate each. Here might be a good place to start.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:04AM
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Lichens, like many other plants, take many forms. Linked below are some images of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: images of lichens

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 7:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

some people pay to have lichens applied to bonsai .. they are not harm full in any sense ...

as noted .... NEVER use a chemical.. w/o a full ID .. otherwise its pollution ... this stuff is actually on the outside of dead bark.. a systemic applied to the plant would never touch it ....

MOST plants.. especially shrubs and trees.. are nudey inside ... just walk thru any forest ... there is nothing to do .. to overcome this natural proclivity ....


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:14AM
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cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)

I will try to post pics. ronalawn, that is a very helpful article, thank you.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Contrary to what some people appear to believe about lichens and trees and that lichens harm trees, they do not.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Lichens

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:29AM
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not sure if its the same problem but it sounds like it on my lilac too. it happens toward the end of summer. It always seems to happen if we go from drought to rain. I never paid it any attention since it was at the end of the year. It did look like grey mold and the leaves would curl up.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ronalawn, it is very easy to associate a heavy growth of lichen and/or Spanish moss with plant problems, isn't it? It seems to proliferate on declining trees and shrubs. I've had quite a time, over many years, convincing clients that the decline came before the other.

I've always considered a heavy crop of lichen to be a yellow flag...a warning that a plant just might be less than vigorous. The increased air circulation and sunlight penetration have a great deal to do with it. Lichen and SM both benefit from that.

I have seen heavy growths of both cause secondary issues for their hosts. Lichen can become so dense that it blocks lenticels and causes the accumulation of moisture and debris, which on smaller limbs can be a problem. And then can come the real problems.

I believe very strongly that the association between harmless lichens and harmful pathogens does exist and probably more commonly than suggested in kimmsr 's link. It is far more apt to be an issue in warm climates.

The plants mentioned by cateyanne tend to be prone to their own problems and I'm not at all surprised that a little lichen found a good home amongst them.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 5:12AM
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So botanists and horticulturists that have spent years studying plan growth, plant diseases, all things plant related, do not know what they are talking about?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 7:23AM
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