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Wood affected by brown rot acquires a brownish stain and shrinks abnormally during drying, resulting in a cracked, cube-like appearance. The cracks run perpendicular to the natural woodgrain. When this cube-shaped wood is dry, it crushes easily into powder. Brown rot produces fruiting bodies which look like crusts, shelves, or mushrooms, with a tough, leathery, corky or woody texture when mature.
Brown rot occurs throughout most of the United States where there is abundant moisture.
Comparison with other groups: Some sap-staining fungi do cause brown or black stains, but do not result in abnormal shrinkage of the wood into brittle cubes that crumble when crushed. Surface-staining fungi which also result in brown or black stains give the wood surface a powdery or fuzzy appearance, but these types do not produce shrinkage or cubes either.
Brown rot is spread by spores. It can reduce the strength of the wood, and cause it to absorb more moisture. Some brown rot fungi can withstand high heat and dryness. Some species can remain dormant for long periods, and then revive when moisture is present.
Affected wood becomes brownish. While drying, the wood tends to crack perpendicular to the grain, resulting in cube-like structures which are easily crushed into powder when dry.
A thorough inspection is needed in order to identify the source of moisture, and to lower or preferably eliminate it. Structural modifications may be needed, depending upon the extent of damage.
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