Common Tree Problems in Atlanta

Oak Leaf Blister

Taphrina caerulescens

oak leaf blisterSymptoms: Oak leaves begin to show chlorotic, blister-like areas on the upper surface that can be as large as one half inch in diameter. The lower surface has gray depressions that correspond to the raised blisters. As the disease progresses, the blisters turn brown and the leaf will curl as the blisters coalesce. Premature leaf drop also may occur. Trees are not severely damaged, but the appearance of the tree may be unsightly. All oak species are susceptible to this disease. Favorable Conditions: Leaves become infected when buds are beginning to open in the spring. The pathogen can survive winter on plant twigs and bud scales. The disease develops during wet, humid, mild conditions in the spring. Spores causing oak leaf blister are spread by wind and rain. Control: Rake fallen leaves and debris and discard to reduce disease inoculum. Contact Advanced Arborists to treat with a fungicide.


Apiognomonia quercinia

papery lesionsSymptoms: Symptoms vary with host, weather and time of infection. Shoot blight is one of the first symptoms seen in spring. Blighting causes leaves and shoots to brown and shrivel. Young leaves become cupped or distorted with necrotic lesions. Large lesions often follow leaf veins or are delimited by leaf veins. Old lesions are papery and gray to white in color. On the underside of an infected leaf, tiny brown fungal fruiting bodies may be visible on or near major veins. Premature leaf drop is common. Mature leaves are fairly resistant and the symptoms are simple necrotic spots. If infection is severe, branch cankers and twig dieback can occur during winter and early spring. The symptoms usually first appear on lower branches and then spread upward. Favorable Conditions: Anthracnose fungi overwinter in twigs and plant debris. If winters are mild, the pathogen is active causing cankers and dieback. Spores are spread by wind and rain during the spring and infect new shoots. This disease can have multiple cycles per year if the weather is moderately warm and wet. Control: Rake and destroy fallen leaves. Call Advanced Arborists to prune lower branches to increase air circulation and ensure proper tree fertility and irrigation. Chemical controls are rarely recommended unless trees are newly established.

Tubakia Leaf Spot

Tubakia dryina

leaf spotSymptoms: The symptoms caused by Tubakia are brown or reddish brown blotches on the leaves. Premature leaf drop and twig cankers are common if the trees are severely infected. Spots are well-defined on young leaves and enlarge to necrotic blotches on older leaves. Small fungal fruiting bodies can be seen within the lesions. Lesions may cause leaves to collapse if they are on veins and restrict water movement. Favorable Conditions: The disease overwinters on twigs and plant debris. It favors wet, humid conditions and warm temperatures. Primary spore dissemination is by wind and rain. Red oaks are more susceptible than white oaks. Control: Rake and dispose of fallen leaves. Call Advanced Arborists to prune trees to increase air circulation and ensure proper fertility and irrigation.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch

Xylella fastidiosa

leaf scorchSymptoms: Symptoms of bacterial leaf scorch are described as marginal leaf burn and are very similar to drought stress symptoms (Fig. 7). In addition to marginal leaf burn, there is a defined reddish or yellow border separating the necrosis from green tissue. Symptoms are more noticeable in late summer after hot, dry conditions, but symptoms can be expressed all year. Symptoms first appear on one branch or section of branches and on the oldest leaves. Each year symptoms will reoccur and progress to other parts of the tree. Favorable Conditions: The disease is spread by leafhoppers, spittlebugs and through root contact with neighboring trees. Since the pathogen is harbored within insects, warm temperatures and high populations of leafhoppers and spittlebugs are conducive for bacterial leaf scorch. Control: Call Advanced Arborists to remove severely infected trees and replant using resistant species. Control weeds (to minimize insect populations) and ensure proper tree fertility and irrigation to maintain health and vigor.

Hypoxylon Canker

Hypoxylon spp.

hypoxylon fungusSymptoms: Yellowing and wilting of leaves often related to physiological stress may be the first symptom of this disease. Fungal mats (stroma) will develop beneath the bark of infected trees. Bark will begin to slough-off due to pressure from the stroma beneath it. Stroma exposed by sloughing bark is hard, tan to silver gray on the outside, and black within. There may be small patches to elongated strips. Old stroma eventually loses the gray color and appears black. The sapwood becomes tan to light brown and has a definite black border. Favorable Conditions: Hypoxylon cankers are opportunists that attack trees weaken by other factors such as heat, drought, wound, root injury or other diseases. Oak species most commonly infected are black, blackjack, laurel, live, post, and white oaks. Hypoxylon can be present as a latent colonist in healthy trees and this may account for the rapid invasion of stressed trees. The fungus is favored by warm temperatures of 60 to 100 degrees F but the optimal temperature is near 86 degrees F. Spores are primarily wind dispersed. Control: Call Advanced Arborists to keep trees vigorous with proper fertility and irrigation. Prevent wounds from mechanical, weather and insect injury. Remove infected limbs or trees once they become hazardous to property or people, and to reduce disease spread to adjacent trees.

Bacterial Wetwood

bacterial wetwoodSymptoms: A sour odor is often associated with wetwood as water-soaked wood with large numbers of dead bacteria begin to break down. The build-up of bacterial populations within the tree causes fermentation resulting in internal gas pressure of up to sixty pounds per square inch. Foliage sometimes wilts and branches may dieback. However, most of the time, wetwood is a minor problem that leaves a vertical streak on the bark where pressurized liquid escaped out of wounds. Many times, secondary fungi and bacteria infect the surface liquid and create a slimy texture on the bark. Favorable Conditions: Bacteria that cause wetwood tolerate low oxygen and are often found in soils and on plant surfaces. Bacteria enter through assorted wounds above and below the soil line. The bacteria may lay dormant during the greatest periods of growth and become active in mature or older tissues. Control: The only known controls for bacterial wetwood are a bactericide that can only be applied by Certified Arborists and a 10% bleach solution which anyone may apply to clean stains off the bark and reduce the smell.

Armillaria Root Rot

Armillaria spp.

armillaria root rotSymptoms: There are several general symptoms that accompany Armillaria root disease, including crown dieback, growth reduction, premature leaf drop or death of the tree. Because these fungi commonly inhabit roots, their detection is difficult unless characteristic mushrooms are produced at the base of the tree. Removing the bark will expose the characteristic, white mycelial rhizomorphs that grow between the wood and the bark. Short-lived mushrooms may be found growing in clusters around the bases of infected trees. They are honey brown to reddish in color. The fungus breaks down lignin and cellulose causing the wood to become spongy. Favorable Conditions: Spread occurs when rhizomorphs contact uninfected roots. Rhizomorphs can grow for distances of up to ten feet and penetrate the roots by a combination of mechanical pressure and enzymatic action. Mushrooms are produced in late summer or autumn, and are most abundant during moist periods. Vigorously growing trees often confine the fungi to localized lesions and limit their spread up the roots by secreting resin and rapidly forming callus tissues. But when infected trees are in a weakened condition, Armillaria spreads rapidly through the roots. Control: Because these fungi are indigenous to many areas and live on a wide variety of plants and woody material, their eradication is not feasible. Management should be directed toward increasing tree vigor by calling Advanced Arborists to insure proper irrigation and fertility.

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