Plants' Symptoms of Root Rot

Root rot is a fungal disease that germinates during long periods of wet weather and moist soil. This soil-borne disease infects a wide array of plants and trees, targeting the tissues of the root system. Transported by microscopic fungal spores, the disease infects the very fine roots of the system first. Though chemical control is effective, identifying the disease can often be challenging as the symptoms often mirror those of other diseases. The symptoms of root rot varying from plant to plant. Still, the most common symptoms are quite common amongst many.


The foliage symptoms are usually the first recognized, though they are not usually the first symptoms to appear. Trees and plants that are infected with root rot will be nutrient deficient. As a result, the foliage of the tree will begin to yellow. Young, newly developed leaves will show symptoms before the more mature leaves. As the disease progresses, the yellowed leaves will turn brown and, eventually, die and defoliate from the tree. Severely infected foliage will also show signs of curling, as if being rolled from the edges.

Loss of Vigor

Loss of vigor is generally the first displayed symptom of root rot. However, this symptom is, quite often, not the first recognized symptom. As the root rot disease attacks the root system of the tree or plant, the tissues and cells responsible for transporting the water and nutrients throughout the tree are killed. This invasion causes a nearly immediate loss of vigor as the tree becomes distressed and unable to feed itself. Loss of vigor and growth stunt can be difficult to identify but is often displayed by a loss of color. The normally rich-green foliage will appear dull, almost dirty. The plant or tree will appear droopy with a lackluster appearance.


Roots that are infected with root rot disease will show immediate signs. The normally sturdy roots will turn into a mushy consistency. Progression of the disease will cause the root system to decay, leaving only an outer shell which easily shatters when touched. Infected trees will often develop cankers near the base of the trunk, close to the uppermost roots with mushrooms growing nearby.

Keywords: loss of vigor, root rot symptoms, root rot disease

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.