The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services defines tree disease as “…sustained and progressive impairment of the structure or function of any part of a living tree.” Many different hosts and environmental changes can bring on the disease. It can also bring with it its own set of problems and symptoms for the infected tree.
A diseased tree can quickly become a biological hazard. If not contained, the disease can spread to nearby trees infected them as well. Large amounts of dead or dying trees can create problems such as:
- safety concerns
- affect the environment
- affect the ecosystem in a forest
Different types of bacteria and fungus can affect all aspects of the tree, including everything from the foliage, root system, and even stems. If you have trees on your property, it’s essential to know the different types of diseases that could affect them and how certain fungi or bacteria can infect particular trees. Ultimately it can save you from having to deal with more significant problems in the future if left untreated. Read on to learn 3 different tree diseases and how to spot them.
The environment plays a massive role in the onset of tree diseases. Many different factors can influence the effect of the disease on a tree, which can include:
- moisture in the air
- soil conditions
- amount of rain
Frequent fluctuations in the weather can cause a tree to become more susceptible to disease. For example, large storms that bring excess rain and changing temperatures can create an excellent environment for fungi and other bacteria to grow on or within a tree. Once the water has subsided, the fungi and bacteria can continue to grow, leading to worsening problems.
By understanding how much the environment can affect your trees’ health, you’ll be able to spot the signs of disease before it’s too late. If you have recently experienced a storm, it’s always best to check trees you may be concerned about. By doing this, you can observe any potential fungus or bacteria growth on the tree sooner than later.
Culprit #1: Lethal Bronzing Disease
Florida is known for its beautiful and iconic palm trees. However, in 2006 palm trees across the Hillsborough and Tampa area were beginning to lose their vibrant green color, turning a dull brown and completely dried out. Ultimately it was discovered that a small bacterium known as phytoplasma was the cause behind this devastation. Because of this bacteria’s genetic makeup, it could only be spread to and affect other palm trees.
The phytoplasma bacteria lives in the sap of an infected tree. When sap-loving insects feed off of the infected tree, they become a carrier for the bacteria. They then go on to another tree looking for their next meal and spread the bacteria to a healthy tree.
Since Lethal Bronzing disease is easily spread, it significantly impacted many palm trees in the many years to come. Once a tree is infected and tests positive for the bacteria, it must be immediately removed to prevent further spread. A few symptoms of this disease include:
- premature fruit drop
- discoloration of the oldest leaves closest to the ground
- the collapse of the spear leaf
These symptoms can occur at different rates within different trees. However, once these visible signs are spotted it will be too late to save the tree with any form of treatment. To stop the spread, the tree must be removed from the area. This problem continued for many years after it was discovered and has been affected palm trees in the Florida state up until 2019.
Culprit #2: Fusiform Rust
This disease affects Florida pine trees, loblolly pines, and slash pines. However, it can also affect oak trees. It is caused by a fungus known as Cronartiium quercuum f. sp. Fusiforme. Typically, this fungus affects saplings, which are young trees. It can weaken the tree’s wood, creating deformities, ultimately leading to the entire tree’s death.
If an older tree acquires this disease, it can be treated by pruning the weak or deformed branches. However, it’s essential to understand that this fungus weakens the whole tree; therefore, if it has many limbs creating a hazardous environment, it will be best to remove the entire tree. A few symptoms and signs of this tree disease include:
- rust galls or cankers on the branches or main stem of the tree
- deformed or broken limbs
- rust-colored spores can be found on the tree trunk or branches
Luckily trees are very resilient and can form genetic resistance to the fungus’ such as fusiform rust. This means that the new seedlings that are produced in high-risk areas will be able to fight off this disease more efficiently than trees without this new genetic makeup.
Culprit #3: Ganoderma
Among specific Florida, tree diseases are Ganoderma, which is another type of fungus. Typically, these fungi’ grow at the base of a tree’s trunk around the 4-5 foot area from the base. The fungus only grows on palms and is more common in the southern part of the state.
Once the fungus begins to grow, it will start to rot the area. Since it grows on the lower part of the tree, it can create rot within the trunk. It can cause the tree to become unstable and fall. The most common way to determine if your tree is suffering from Ganoderma is the presence of a “conk” like mushroom growth on the tree’s base.
Another symptom of this fungus is if the tree has slower growth or have off-colored fronds. During the growing process, the mushroom’s spores can be picked up by the air and water and spread to other trees in the area. Since it can be spread so quickly, it can lead to larger devastations and problems.
There are no treatments for this fungus, and any infected trees need to be removed from the area before it spreads. If the tree is removed, it’s important not to plant another tree in the area. The soil from the previous tree could be infected and lead to another infection on your new tree. If you do not take the extra precautions to clear the infected soil you could end up repeating the cycle over and over again.
Tree Diseases: Conclusion
If you suspect that you have diseased trees near or on your property, you should get them assessed right away. It’s essential never to let the problem go untreated. You could be putting the health of the surrounding trees in jeopardy. It can also create a hazardous environment for those residing near the infected tree.
Now that you understand the 3 most significant culprits in Florida that can lead to tree diseases, you’ll be ready to spot the signs if needed. At SB Tree Service, our professional can help you to determine if your tree is suffering from disease or not. It’s essential to get the right advice before removing a tree that could be healthy or suffering from other diseases that can be easily treated.
We also offer tree removal services to remove an infected tree from the property to protect you and the surrounding trees. Visit us online today to learn more about the many other services we offer to our customers in Brevard and Volusia county.