Sycamore Anthracnose is a disease caused by the fungus Apiognomonia veneta. This is usually a non fatal disease of sycamores that flairs up in the cool wet spring weather. I will try and educate you through the use of photos, descriptions and recommendations what options you have to deal with this disease on your trees.
First of all, I have a number of pictures taken in the Fall of 2010 in Detroit, MI on a site with 92 total mature Sycamore trees. Most of these trees are between 20″ and 35″ in diameter. Anthracnose has obviously been on this site, affecting these trees for many years. Some of the trees are declining to the point where the Cooperative that owns them was nearly ready to consider their removal. After contacting me and learning more about what I can do to save these trees, they have decided to start a gradual multi-year program to rid these trees of the disease. At the same time we will be working on improving their overall health. I will document their progress on this website. So be sure to keep in touch with this site to get “The Rest of the Story!”
To start with let’s show a picture of a Sycamore tree on an adjacent site in Detroit that looks unaffected to this point from this disease.
The sycamore tree on the left appears to be relatively unaffected by the anthracnose disease even though other trees in the area have been struggling for years. This is quite commonly found and can be explained almost as simply as not everyone exposed to a cold virus catches a cold. Then some people that catch colds get much sicker than others. Once we get our sycamore trees back to good health it is important to keep them adequately watered and fertilized over the course of a growing season. Just as all of us should get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and eat properly to maintain our health. Sycamore trees that are stressed are more susceptible to catching anthracnose and other pathogens.
Now in this next picture, we start seeing the telltale signs of chronic anthracnose. You won’t see the real problem until you click on this picture and look at the close up. There you will see that this tree is not at all as healthy as it appears at first glance. There are a lot of little groups of small branches that the leaves have fallen off of, and the tree is much thinner than the original healthier sycamore tree. The disease starts as a brown lesion on the veins of the leaves, spreading and crinkling the leaf up, eventually causing it to fall off the tree.
In addition many smaller twigs, visible here, are dying. Sometimes in spring you can get a sudden leaf and twig drop causing most people some concern. But in a short time the tree starts releafing and can look quite normal by June or mid July. Then the defoliation re-occurs, sometimes in the same season, or perhaps the following. This repeated defoliation and releafing stresses the tree a lot by lowering stored sugar reserves subjecting the tree to other damaging problems.
What becomes visible on the tree after these repeated cycles is a growth deformity we refer to as “witches broom”. The repeated defoliation and releafing keeps happening from the same location giving you an appearance of a broom in various little clumps all over the tree. The overall health of the tree is declining and this new deformed growth is unattractive.
While the tree may survive for a few years with this problem reoccurring you can see in this next picture just what starts happening to our sycamore trees. The “witches broom” look get very pronounced. This deformed growth starts looking terrible and the leaf and twig drop gets even worse. Then what happens is discussions start taking place about removing these trees as most people do not realize this problem is controllable and reversible. You need to have a two pronged approach to solving this problem. 1) treat the disease; and 2) increase the overall health of the tree by encouraging the tree to replenish its long depleted sugar reserves. This usually takes two years. I talk more about the specifics of how I treat sycamores with anthracnose in the Sycamore Treatment options section of this website up to the left.
If you are having problems with your sycamore trees and the anthracnose disease – CONTACT ME – and I can help. Wouldn’t you love to have your old tree back and stop the massive cleanup in your yard each year? And you can avoid that huge expense of removal IF YOU DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE!
You need a Board Certified Master Arborist that knows how to deal with your tree problems. My phone number and email are right below here, and at the top of every page of this website or use the convenient contact form on the right. Help is not far away!
Email – SaveTheAsh@aol.com
Toll free – (877) SaveAsh; (877)728-3274