Lichen is a slippery, moss like substance that grows on trees. If properly managed, lichen on fruit trees will not directly harm the tree's health.
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Composed of fungus and algae, lichen is a substance that grows on the bark of a tree. It ranges in colors from orange to yellow, green to dark brown.
Lichen is likely to grow on your fruit trees if you live in a desert, mountain or tundra climate.
Lichen "provide[s] home and food for beneficial insects, and some are nitrogen fixers. The presence of certain kinds of lichens is an indicator of good air quality," says an Oregon State University Extension article. That said, it can also be a nuisance requiring maintenance--especially on fruit trees.
Strictly speaking, lichen does not present a threat to your fruit trees. However, too much lichen on a fruit tree can be harmful if it impedes spur production. Stunted spur production can result in the breakage of limbs.
If you are looking to minimize or manage the lichen on your fruit trees, there are a few things you can do. In the fall season, after harvesting but before the leaves fall off, spray the fruit tree with a copper fungicide. In the winter, spray the tree once with lime sulfur and horticultural oil.
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