Biology

How to Identify Tree Diseases

Posted by on Jun 23, 2018 in Biology, Health | 0 comments

Plants, like humans, are susceptible to disease, and they may be more common than you think. Trees have a natural ability to fight diseases and pests, but when their native defenses fail, you may be forced to call in tree experts to deal with your problem. The problem that most people have with identifying diseases in plants is that the culprits are microscopic, but they can quickly spread and kill a tree. By the time we notice the tree has a problem, it might be too late.

Trees may look like one entity, but they have several different parts that make up a system. Each component can be infected by different diseases, so don’t think that just because the leaves look fine, the trunk doesn’t have a problem. In order to properly care for the tree and help it fight the disease, it’s important to identify what is causing the problem. Here are two of the most common diseases that may be causing your tree’s unhealthy condition:

Anthracnose – This is actually more of a symptom than a disease, and it is caused by a fungal infection. You may see irregular dead areas in the top of the tree or spotty blotches on the leaves. Other times, the entire leaf can show symptoms and appear to be dead. Cankers, a type of fungus, have been known to girdle everything from twigs to small branches, killing them off and damaging the tree. In an attempt to repair itself, the tree may regrow in an unusual way, giving it a gnarly appearance with crooked limbs. You may first notice symptoms on the leaves before it reaches the tree’s branches. By the time the fungus infects the smaller twigs and branches, it has a much higher chance of having a deadly outcome for the tree. This condition may be difficult to identify because the symptoms are similar to other diseases and can also be caused by poor environmental conditions.

Sooty Mold – Although sooty mold is not likely to cause much damage to the plant, it can be a nuisance for homeowners to live with. The disease is caused by sucking insects that leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew on the leaves, which sooty mold fungus then uses as food to thrive. This is, of course, how this disease got its name. Sucker bugs can include aphids, scales, and whiteflies, but trees that produce a sugary exudate can also be susceptible to sooty mold. Once these sucking bugs have begun to infest the tree in large numbers, it can quickly turn a tree into an unpleasant sight, as well as affecting things below the tree. Plants that are heavily infected can be covered with sooty mold in a matter of days or weeks, and even though its leaves are covered, the tree is still able to get enough sunlight and continue to grow in a healthy manner. The relationship between this fungus and the host plant is poorly understood.

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