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Gray fungus? Virus? Looks like burnt wood on Pyracantha

Livermore, CA(Zone 9b)

We bought a sixteen year old house and I am clearing a lot of overgrown landscaping to prepare for a new front yard. I went in to trim and shape a huge old Pyracantha and found the most appalling situation…under the green overgrowth the entire shrub was covered with this ashen gray substance and all the branches looked like they had been in a fire. The main plant looks as if it’s dead. The ashen part of whatever it is, seems to be kind of powdery and it makes a cloud of white when I try to remove the undergrowth. First question…what the heck is it? Second question…is it dangerous to my other landscaping plants or to me? And third question…is there a safe way to get rid of the whole shrub? I live in Livermore CA and I would hate to find that it could escape and infect neighbors landscaping…any help on this would be very much appreciated! Thanks!

Thumbnail by httpmom
Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Here is some info for you. It is rather hard to make out exactly what is on the trunk, but it could also be lichens from age and stress. a closer look would be useful.

http://ipm.illinois.edu/diseases/series600/rpd638/

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/PLANTS/pyracantha.html

http://www.homeandgardenideas.com/gardening/shrubs-bushes/care/caring-pyracantha-bush

Livermore, CA(Zone 9b)

I finally visited the Master Gardeners’ at our Farmers Market and found out that it is infected with San Jose Scale...because it is all over the entire under branches they advised me to remove the whole shrub. I took a piece of wood with me. (Our local nursery didn't have a clue.) I already took out two overgrown ugly pink rose bushes there, so now I have the pleasure of amending the soil and picking some nice drought tolerent shrubs...woo hoo I get to buy new plants!
Thanks for the help!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hurray on the new plants...glad you got the answers you needed.

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