Prior to attending a Forestry Commission event on tree pests and diseases earlier today, I stopped off at Epping Forest to explore for an hour or so. I made a beeline directly to the pollarded beech trees, as they really are truly fascinating to look at. Wonderfully, they’re also riddled with fungal decay, and some of the pollards showcase some quite glorious examples of how fungi can colonise.
In the images I am sharing below, we can observe how Ganoderma sp. (suspected G. australe) has colonised a quite massive Fagus sylvatica pollard, up the entire main trunk and into the confluence of stems. Without question, the fact the pollard has been crown reduced is because of this, as the white rot induced by the mycelium as it degrades the wood structure will progressively weaken the entire stem confluence. Of course, failure is still entirely possible, and one has to just look at other trees in the area to recognise this, though it’s a form of risk management that balances the need to reduce risk but also ensures the tree retains its character. In time, it’ll probably be monolothed.