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Maple tree leaf diseases. Rhytisma acerinum. Tar black spot.

Fungal Diseases of Kansas Trees

A fungus is a kind of organism that isn’t an animal but is not quite a plant, though some scientists put them in the plant kingdom anyway. Some fungal diseases are just unsightly and don’t do too much damage to an otherwise healthy tree; others can be fatal.

One fungal disease that attacks Kansas trees is oak wilt. This devastating disease was first discovered in the 1940s in Wisconsin and has since spread as far south as Texas. It has decimated whole stands of trees. It targets red oak trees, whose leaves have pointed tips. The disease starts at the top of the tree, and you will first see the leaves starting to brown there. The tree will die within weeks, but even dead trees are hazardous. They have mats of spores that eventually crack the bark. This attracts insects that carry the spores to other trees.

Another fungal disease is the notorious Dutch elm disease which is responsible for the near eradication of all old-growth elms in Kansas and other states. The fungus that causes this disease is called Ophiostoma novo-ulmi. As with oak wilt, the leaves wilt, turn yellow and then brown, and start to fall in spring and summer. This disease begins on the outside of the crown and creeps inward. Unlike oak wilt it can take years for Dutch elm disease to kill a tree.

Another fungal disease that affects Kansas trees is ash rust, which produces yellow spots on the top of leaves and orange pustules on the undersides and on the stems. Other rusts include the Gymnosporangium rusts, rose and quince rusts, and Armillaria root rot. Armillaria root rot attacks both deciduous and evergreen trees and causes the roots and lower part of the trunk to decay. The fungus can weaken the tree so much that it can be knocked over during a storm. This can be extremely dangerous if it’s a large tree that’s close to a building or power line.

What Can Be Done for a Sick Tree?

Before a sick tree can be treated, our arborists at My Complete Tree need to diagnose what’s wrong with it. We’ll ascertain certain facts, including the following:

  • Species of the tree
  • What the weather’s been like
  • Part of the plant that’s sick
  • Condition of your property

When the disease is diagnosed, we can do several things to help. These include painting wounds on the tree to prevent the infestation of bugs that might spread the disease. We can also inject the tree with fungicide and prune away diseased branches. As a last resort, we can remove the tree and make sure it’s destroyed. We can also make recommendations for replacing the tree with cultivars that are resistant to the disease.

Call My Complete Tree for Service

Wichita is a great place to live, and part of its allure is its beautiful old trees. Our arborists pride themselves on giving them the best of care. If you fear that your old or young tree has been hit by a fungal disease, give us a call at My Complete Tree today.

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