Beech Leaf Disease

Beech Leaf Disease

Written by Jamey Schwartz – Plant Health Care Manager

There is a new disease to the North East that is causing mortality to beech trees. Beech Leaf Disease (BLD) originated in Ohio near Lake Erie in 2012 and has now spread to most counties in Pennsylvania. The disease is spread by root graft, rain splash, and birds for short distances and longer distances by moving contaminated plants. BLD is caused by a nematode (microscopic roundworm) and associated pathogens that infects all cultivars of both American and European Beech trees. The nematode burrows between the epidermal layers of the leaf where it causes disruption in the buds. Symptoms include dark thickening of the leaf tissue between the veins followed by shriveling, puckering, and curling of the leaves. Symptoms generally appear in the lower canopy and progress upwards in the following years. Disease progression causes continued canopy die back and thinning year after year leading to mortality. Infected beech trees manifest symptoms in 2-3 years and typically cause mortality in young beech trees in 3-5 years and mature beech trees in 5-7 years. Our treatment protocol is to promote tree health and vigor through various Plant Health Care treatments. These treatments include basal bark/soil drenches of systemic fungicides and organic fertilizers, which all activate the tree’s natural defense mechanisms. Other beneficial treatments include proper pruning, mulching, and water management to maintain the tree’s health and vigor. These treatments are both preventative and therapeutic. Now is a great time to speak to one of our ISA Certified Arborists about scheduling an assessment of your valued beech trees. Learn more about BLD at the links below.
Beech Leaf Disease in Pennsylvania (psu.edu)