Beech blows over in stormy weather
A large mature beech blew over in the recent windy period in the Lake District. Another tree to fall victim to the stormy conditions. The tree was over 25 metres tall and over 1metre in circumference. The tree had a full crown with no signs of any dieback, perfect for the wind to catch!
On closer inspection of the root plate it appeared that some of the larger structural roots were extensively decayed. There were no signs of any fruiting bodies of any decay fungi at the time. It is likely though that the suspect would have been Meripilus giganteus also known as Giant Polypore. Past research on Meripilus suggested that as soon as fruiting bodies are spotted at the base of the tree windthrow is inevitable. This is due to the fact that the fungi can become well established on the roots long before it produces its fruiting bodies.The tendency of this species to decay the larger structural roots has been recorded over and over again.
New research suggests that on occasion it is no longer a case of fell the tree if the fruiting bodies of Meripilus appear. This is due to a number of trees which have been infected by the decay fungi for years and years yet never seem to blow over and eventually die standing.
Careful investigation is required if trees are spotted with Meripilus fruiting bodies, due to the high chance of tree failure.