The conifer killer tree diseases – 2022
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There are virulent diseases that affect conifers that eventually lead to death or devalue a tree in the urban landscape and rural forest to the point where they must be pruned. In About's Forestry Forum five of the most malignant diseases of foresters and landowners have been suggested. I have classified these diseases according to their ability to cause aesthetic and commercial damage. Here they are:
#1 – Armillaria Root Disease:
The disease attacks both hardwoods and conifers and can kill shrubs, vines and forests in every state in the United States. It is ubiquitous in North America, commercially destructive and my choice for the worst disease.The Armillaria sp. Can kill trees already weakened by competition, other pests or climatic factors. The fungi also infect healthy trees, either killing them directly or predisposing them to attack by other fungi or insects.More about Armillaria root disease.
# 2 – Diplodia jaw rot:
This disease affects pine trees and is most damaging to plantings of exotic and native pine species in 30 eastern and central states. The fungus is rarely found in natural stands of pine trees. Diplodia pinea kills shoots of the current year, larger branches and ultimately entire trees. The effects of this disease are most severe in landscape, windbreak and park plantings.
Symptoms are brown, stunted new shoots with short, brown needles.More about Diplodia jaw rot.
#3 – White Pine Blister Rust:
The disease attacks pine trees with 5 needles per fascicle. This includes eastern and western white pine, sugar pine and pine. Seedlings are in grave danger. Cronartium ribicola is a rust fungus and can only be infected by basidiospores produced on Ribes plants (current and gooseberry plants).
It is native to Asia, but was introduced to North America. It has invaded most white pine areas and is still making progress into the Southwest and Southern California.More about White Pine Blister Rust.
#4 – Annosus Root Rot:
The disease is a blight of conifers in many temperate parts of the world. The decay, called annosus root rot, often kills conifers. It occurs throughout much of the eastern U.S. and is very common in the South.The fungus, Fomes annosus , usually enters by infecting freshly cut stump surfaces. This makes annosus root rot a problem in thinned pine plantations. The fungus produces conks that form on the root collar on roots of living or dead trees and on tree stumps or on slash strips.More about Annosus Root Rot.
#5 – Fusiform Rust in Southern Pines:
This disease causes a tree to die within five years if trunk infection occurs. Mortality is greatest in trees less than 10 years old. Millions of dollars are lost annually to timber growers because of the disease. The fungus Cronartium fusiforme Requires an alternate host to complete its life cycle. Part of the cycle is spent in the living tie of pine stems and branches and the rest in the green leaves of various oak species.
More on fusiform rust in southern pines.
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