Fruit Tree Root Disease


Fruit trees are susceptible to several fungal and bacterial diseases, which usually result in the death of affected trees. Proper planting and maintenance can reduce the incidence of disease on fruit trees.

Symptoms of Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases of fruit tree roots cause reduced growth and vigor of the affected tree. Symptoms may include small and/or yellowish leaves, leaf drop, white web-like masses of mycelium on the tree, and mushrooms growing around the base of the tree.

Symptoms of Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial diseases cause soft, spongy galls on the crown and roots of affected trees. The galls become harder as they age. Young apple, cherry, peach and plum trees may be stunted by galls.

Examples of Diseases

Apple, cherry and peach trees are susceptible to Phytopthora Root Disease, one of the most common fruit tree diseases, and Mushroom Root Rot, named for the mushrooms that grow at the base of affected trees. Both diseases can be fatal. Southern Blight infects the roots and lower stems of young apple trees, causing decline and death.

Chemical Treatment

Most fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit tree roots have no chemical preventative or control. Fungicidal sprays may prevent Phytopthora Root Rot, but are not effective once a tree is infected.

Preventative Measures

Choose disease-resistant varieties of fruit trees. Plant in a well drained, disease-free area. Do not plant fruit trees in newly cleared areas or where diseased plants have previously grown.


  • Cornell University Extension:Tree Fruit Disease Fact Sheet

Who Can Help

  • Armillaria Root Rot
  • Phytopthora Root Rot
  • Southern Blight
Keywords: fruit tree root diseases, fruit tree diesease, root rot, root galls

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.