HARMFUL SAC FUNGI
fungus causes the Dutch Elm Disease. This
fungus first appeared in the U.S. in 1930. Apparently
it appeared in transported elm logs. The
main carrier of the disease are bark beetles that carry the fungus from tree to
tree as they feed. The observable symptoms and the progression of the disease
differ among trees which are inoculated through beetle feeding and those which
are infected through root grafts. Trees infected by beetles first show wilting,
curling and yellowing of leaves on one or more
in the upper portion of the tree. Large trees may survive and show progressively
more symptoms for one or more years. Trees infected through root grafts wilt and
die rapidly; this frequently occurs in the spring soon after the trees have
leafed out and progresses from the base of the tree upward.
fungus has virtually eliminated the American Chestnut, as a commercial species,
from eastern hardwood forests. Although
roots from trees cut or killed many years ago continue to produce sprouts that
survive to the sapling stage before being killed, there is no indication that a
cure for this disease will be found. The
fungus is widespread and continues to survive as a non-lethal parasite on
chinkapin, Spanish Chestnut, and Post Oak.
fungus forms yellowish or orange fruiting bodies about the size of a pin head on
the older portion of the bark. Spores
may exude from these fruiting bodies as orange, curled horns during moist
(another alkaloid) causes spontaneous abortion in livestock and humans.
Other alkaloids can cause convulsive ergotism, with symptoms that include diarrhea, vomitting, lethargy, hallucinations, twitching, distortion of the limbs, seizure and sometimes, the sensation of ants crawling all over the body. LSD is manufactured from one of these types of alkaloids.
Extended periods of cool, wet weather can encourage the growth of this fungus. It is most likely that much of the “witchcraft” of the Middle Ages and the trials that followed (including the Salem witch trials) were ultimately due to ergotism. The first documented occurrence took place in Germany in 857 AD in which a “great plague of swollen blisters consumed the people by a loathsome rot, so that their limbs were loosened and fell off before death”. When Peter the Great attempted to conquer port cities along the Black Sea, his troops ate contaminated rye flour and fed it to their horses, which came down with “blind staggers”.