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Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

4 Tree Diseases in Florida

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Like human beings and animals, trees are living things that are susceptible to certain diseases. When a tree is diseased, it may die or pass the disease to other trees nearby. Not only this, but disease can weaken the structure of a tree, making it a hazard.

When a tree is diseased, the action you should take will depend on both the specific disease and the stage that the disease is at. For some diseases that are caught early enough, the diseased tree can be treated and make a full recovery. However, in other situations, the best solution is to either prune the diseased parts of the tree or remove the tree altogether.

Tree diseases are often classified in different ways, including by cause, by host, and by maturity. One more way a tree disease gets classified is by the part of the tree that is affected. For example, certain diseases affect the root, stem, or foliage. Besides knowing the classification of the disease, you should also understand the symptoms.

Learn about four common tree diseases in Florida and the symptoms of each.

1. Fusiform Rust

Known as one of the most destructive tree diseases throughout the southeast, fusiform rust is a stem disease that's caused by a fungus called Cronartium quercuum. Native pine trees are especially susceptible to this disease, with the slash pine and loblolly sustaining some of the most severe damage.

Some common symptoms of fusiform rust include:

  • Cigar-shaped galls appear on the main stem of the tree.

  • Yellow-orange blisters eventually begin to form on the galls.

  • Rust-colored spores are found when the infected trunk or branch breaks open.

Because trees with fusiform rust can pose a safety hazard due to stem breakage, it is usually necessary to remove these trees in urban areas. In other situations, an effective form of treatment involves removing the bark from the infected stem.

2. Brown Spot Needle Blight

This fungal disease primarily affects the longleaf pine and is caused by Scirrhia acicola. When young seedlings are infected with this fungus, they often end up dying. However, when seedlings are in their later stages, they can overcome the disease as the tree grows. Some of the most common symptoms associated with brown spot needle blight include:

  • Small yellow or brownish spots with a purple margin appear on the needles.

  • Infected needles are green at the base but dead at the tip and have a scorched appearance.

  • Needles killed by the disease appear to be embossed.

When young trees are in the nursery, brown spot needle blight can be treated with certain fungicides. Trees in the outdoors can be treated by careful pruning and a copper-based fungicide. For trees in the forest, an effective way to manage the disease is through a controlled burn, which kills the fungus along with the infected needles.

3. Laurel Wilt

This deadly fungal disease primarily affects the redbay, swamp bay, and avocado tree, along with other trees in the Laurel family. Laurel wilt is caused by Raffaelea lauricola, which is introduced by the nonnative redbay ambrosia beetle.

Some of the most common symptoms associated with laurel wilt include:

  • Green wilted leaves in the canopy of the tree quickly turn brown.

  • Dark streaks appear underneath the bark and are bluish-blackish in color.

  • Tiny holes with sawdust tubes begin appearing on the trunk and limbs.

 The best way to combat laurel wilt is to remove the infected tree in order to slow down the spread of the disease. The tree should then be chipped or burned, including the stump. Insecticides and fungicides have not proven to be effective when treating laurel wilt.

4. Ganoderma

Many trees and shrubs in Florida can be infected with this disease. Caused when the pathogen known as Ganoderma lucidum gets inside the tree through damaged roots or a tear, Ganoderma aggressively attacks the root system and often causes death to the tree.

Some common symptoms of this particular tree disease include:

  • The leaves begin to wilt and turn yellow.

  • As the sapwood decays, the tree begins to lose its luster and vitality.

  • Fruiting bodies, also known as conks, begin to form on the lower part of the trunk.

Normally, when conks begin to appear, it is too late for the tree and the disease often results in death. No effective treatment currently exists for this disease, and the only way to prevent it is to ensure the roots of the tree never get damaged.

If you have noticed any of these symptoms in trees on your property and you need to know how to treat the disease, or if you need pruning or tree removal, contact Pete & Ron's Tree Service, Inc. Along with having professional tree trimming and removal services, we also have certified arborists on staff to help diagnose tree diseases.

Susan Seamon