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GardenSMART :: Leaf Disease Prevalent After Wet Spring

Leaf Disease Prevalent After Wet Spring

By Davey Tree Expert Company
Photographs courtesy of Davey Tree Expert Company

If the bright and shiny leaves on your shade tree look dull, have brown spots or appear dead, the culprit could be a destructive leaf disease known as anthracnose. The disease can affect ash, maple, oak, sycamore and dogwood trees.

"We're seeing quite a bit more anthracnose disease in both sycamore and ash trees," says Cincinnati Davey Tree arborist Jason Muchmore. "And, we expect to see it in oak trees as well."

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Anthracnose can be especially prevalent in areas that had a wet spring or summer. And with many parts of the U.S. breaking rainfall records this year, the disease is affecting huge swaths of the U.S.

The disease generally spreads from infected, dead leaves on the ground. During cold, wet springs microscopic spores are produced and spread by splashing rain water and wind.

What to look for:

  • Ash trees: brown blotches appear on the leaf's tips, veins and margins.
  • Maple trees: brown veins and irregular browning of margins that extends inward.
  • Oak trees: creates large, dead areas between leaf veins.
  • Sycamores: leaf veins and adjacent tissue slowly turn tan and then brown.

Early Detection

If you suspect your shade tree is infected consult a tree care professional. Early detection is key to controlling the disease and to prevent it from coming back.

Besides leaf problems, trees may also have dead twigs and cankers that cause branches to die. "There are a number of management and treatment options available, and a timely treatment can save your tree," Muchmore said.

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A Helping Hand

Once identified, your arborist may prune out diseased twigs and branches to prevent further infection and to promote good air flow through the tree. Dogwoods, especially, may need help to improve water retention with mulch. A certified arborist may also recommend a foliar fungicide treatment to minimize infection and defoliation. On sycamores, a professional trunk injection of fungicide can provide up to two years of disease suppression.

Reduce Stress

To reduce stress on trees and help prevent disease, trees should be watered during dry periods. If the foliage has dropped, rake and dispose of leaves. Your local arborists can also prescribe a slow release fertilizer plan. Proper fertilization can improve a tree's resistance to damage from pests and disease.

Be on the lookout for symptoms if your area had an especially cool, moist spring or summer. If your leaves are falling earlier than usual this fall, that could be an indication of anthracnose as well. Don't waste time. Consult your local arborist now. Mature trees are irreplaceable.

Worried about anthracnose or other tree issues? Contact Jason, or any Davey certified arborist, by calling (513) 370-2334 or visiting

With nearly 9,500 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company's vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance, and environmental services. Celebrating 40 years of employee ownership, Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio. Want to join us? Discover your Davey career, and apply today.


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