Bracket fungus growing on large Luccombe Oak - does it make te tree dangerous?
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How big is the trunk?
If it is over 3 feet the tree may be about to start going hollow. It may be time to cut back a bit if branch dropping is likely to be inconvenient or a danger to buildings. They form a circle of small branches around the hollow trunk after many years and drop the larger branches.
It looks somewhat like G. Resinaceum, an older specimen. Have you tried taking a picture of it whilst it's wet? The colours should be brighter: http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/240636?nav=users_observations
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I also think G resinaceum is the most likely candidate and as I said elsewhere it is a parasite so will eventually cause problems.
Thanks all for comments. The trunk is 4.3 m in circumference. I don't want to lose the tree but will need to have it taken down if dangerous.
It would be of value to look into cutting back. It is at about the stage where hollowing will start to take place. You need to have a look at photos of older Oak trees and arrange for any branches that are larger than can be supported by a hollow specimen be cut back. It will change the look of the tree for a few years while it grows into the form that it will have once it has finished going hollow. You do not have to cut it down completely. It is just a matter of keeping out of the way during windy weather for 30 years or pay for it to be trimmed.
Thanks Refugee - hopefully it can be cut back as you suggest to make it safer. Am looking into the possibility of having a sonic tomography survey done to establish extent of decay.
Oaks goes hollow at about at abut three to four feet diameter and support a community of fungi and invertebrates inside the trunk as well as having nesting holes for birds. It is where Barn Owls used to nest before we had barns. I feel that ultrasound would just state what we already know anyway. It is just a matter of safely getting the timber that is not going to stay up there while this natural process takes place down either naturally or managed depending on what is under the tree. Fully mature Oak it naturally hollow for at least two thirds of its life. I have even seen estates where they prop the branches up on hollow specimens when they get "too big".
The problem is that this tree is next to a road - so a potential danger - and it is a tall one with a straight trunk and all the branches concentrated in a high crown - so difficult to selectively lessen the load on the tree. From what I read, tomography can identify the extent of weak, decayed wood, which would be more of a concern than hollowness if it were extensive near the base of the tree.
Otherwise, I'm all for letting nature taking its course, and have elsewhere a hollow oak and a tall, dead chestnut full of woodpecker holes which is bound to fall down at some stage - but well away from where it is likely to do any damage.
The hollow one should have many small branches around the top edge of the trunk and no formal crown. This is what is likely to happen in the long run. Any branches that are bigger than the ones on a hollow specimen will at some stage naturally drop to make way for a lower wider crown that will become a circle with a hollow in the center. It takes a long time and you need to look at the direction the strongest winds come from (often southwest) and remove any branches you are worried about. I have seen Oak "made safe" by removing about 80% of all branches that consist of more than about half a ton of wood so that when the hollowing gets that far up what is left just crumbles into "safe" little bits and fall down. It is just a matter of managing the natural process with either insurance tree surgery or if it is away from any public right of way just do not park cars there in windy weather.
Lat/Lng: 50.7, -3.4
OS grid ref: SY0291