I have an oak tree, presumably Black Oak, that has a lot of dead branches. It also has a hard, woody fungus growing around the base of the tree. Is this fungus symptomatic of a disease, or merely that the tree is dying? Can anything be done for the tree?

Sounds like you have an oak with a heartrot problem. The fungus you see is the mushroom typically confirming some level of heartrot. You should have an area arborist check this tree if it is close enough to a house that could be damaged if the tree fails.

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