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Fungal fever! Ridge trees are being attacked by mushrooms

Brooklyn Daily

A mysterious mushroom is feasting on Bay Ridge trees, an arborcidal mycomaniac that appears to be hell bent on murder.

At least eight trees in the area bounded by Third and Sixth avenues and 74th and 78th streets have tested positive for the frisky fungus, which appear to be slowly killing them.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if the mushrooms killed the tree,” said famed mycophile “Wildman” Steve Brill. “They’re not virulent parasites, but they don’t do the tree any good.”

The fungus among us is a direct result of this year’s record rainfall of 60.75 inches, which created ideal growing conditions for the ’shrooms.

“I have been district manager for eight years, and have never gotten complaints about a fungus in a tree,” said Josephine Beckmann of Community Board 10.

Rain or not, you can’t have mushrooms without a willing host, said a Brooklyn College biologist when we showed him pictures of the parasite, adding that the affected trees probably only had a few years left.

“Mushrooms like these imply that the tree is dying gradually because the fungus is digesting dead tissue and using the resources harvested from the plant to colonize and kill live tissue,” said Rafael Ovalle, assistant professor of Biology.

The fungus, which Latin speakers know as Ganoderma lucidum, is common in the states, but rare in China, where it is coveted in the fight against cancer.

Human cancer.

“They are used in Chinese medicine and are supposed to be good for the immune system and to fight cancer,” said Brill.

It’s no secret that Mankind has long been locked in a vicious death struggle with his wooden brethren — which, left unchecked, would quickly reclaim the planet — so some residents actually cheered the demise of the trees.

“I hate big trees,” said Shadi Batal. “The big ones are really scary with the wind. Good riddance.”

The city, meanwhile, is not worried.

“There is no cause for alarm about this condition,” said Jamey Hewitt, director of Brooklyn forestry for the Parks Department. “We have no reports of a fungus that needs removal or is causing disease.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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