Austin, Texas – The City of Austin has recently announced that Flo, an iconic pecan tree at Barton Springs, has been diagnosed with the wood decay fungus Kretzschmaria deusta, commonly referred to as brittle cinder fungus.
According to officials, this disease has the potential to weaken the roots and wood at the base of the tree, leading to structural failures even in outwardly healthy trees. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) staff initially detected a fungal fruiting body near the tree’s base during a routine inspection on July 6. Once the staff collected a sample, a laboratory at Texas A&M University confirmed the presence of Kretzschmaria deusta on August 15.
To further ascertain the severity of the tree’s condition, the Department sought guidance from three independent Certified Arborists who will conduct follow-up inspections. The initial assessment from one of the arborists is anticipated to be completed within a week.
As a precautionary measure to ensure public safety, access to the area around the tree will be cordoned off from pool users. Although it may be necessary to remove Flo, city officials assure that efforts will be made to allow individuals to pay tribute to the tree. They intend to explore options for creative reuse of the remaining intact wood, offering opportunities for commemoration.
Regular updates and information regarding this matter will be posted on the official City of Austin website at austintexas.gov/BSPtree.