Have you noticed that certain branches on your elm tree suddenly appear to be dying? Are the leaves from these branches turning yellow and falling to the ground prematurely? This is not an issue that you should ignore or that will correct itself in time. Chances are, your tree is suffering from Dutch elm disease—a serious and deadly fungal infection that has wreaked havoc on elm stands across the United States. Here's a closer look at this disease and what you can do about it.
What causes Dutch elm disease?
Dutch elm disease is an infection caused by two closely related species of fungi: Ophiostoma ulmi and Ophiostoma novo-ulmi. The fungi are spread from tree to tree by a specific type of beetle known as the elm bark beetle. Elm bark beetles burrow in beneath the elm tree's bark, carrying infective fungal spores with them. When the fungal spores are deposited beneath the tree's bark, they start replicating and causing an array of symptoms.
How can you be sure your tree has Dutch elm disease and not some other infection?
There are a number of less-serious tree infections that may mimic early-stage Dutch elm disease. Bacterial leaf scorch and elm yellows, for example, also cause branches to die and their leaves to fall off. To tell the difference between Dutch elm disease and these other infections, you'll need to look closely at the leaves. If they turn fully yellow and then brown, Dutch elm disease is likely to blame. If the fallen leaves are brown along the margins with a yellow halo or only turn yellow (not brown) then you're probably dealing with a less-serious infection like elm yellows or leaf scorch.
Since the differences can be subtle, it's best to contact a tree care expert if you think your tree may have Dutch elm disease. They can take a fungal infection and confirm the diagnosis to ensure you deal with the disease properly.
What should you do with a tree that has Dutch elm disease?
If it is confirmed that your tree does, in fact, have Dutch elm disease, the best thing you can do is have that tree taken down. It will die within a few years anyways, and by taking it down early, you are getting rid of a source of fungal spores so that elm bark beetles are less likely to pass the disease along to other local elm trees.
To learn more about Dutch elm disease, contact a tree care professional like Arborist Services LLC in your area.Share
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