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Birch Tree Diseases

Diseases and pest attacks may affect the beauty as well as the lifespan of birch trees. This article enlists some of the common diseases that affect these trees.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
Birch trees are much valued for their looks, and are very commonly used for landscaping. There are different species and cultivars of birch trees that vary in bark color, growth, and resistance to pests and diseases. Even though their lifespan is around 40 to 50 years, most of these trees die before they reach maturity. Birch trees require regular care, including pest and disease control; to grow healthy and to thrive.
In order to grow healthy birch trees, proper care is required, right from the stage of planting. You must choose comparatively sturdy and disease-resistant types of birch trees, that are suitable for the local climate. Plant them in a cool, moist, and shady region. Apart from that, regular maintenance, with proper cultural practices are also necessary. Cultural practices include timely watering (during dry weather), fertilizing, mulching, moderate pruning; and removal of dead and dying birch trees, so as to prevent infestation of borers. It is always better to prevent wounds on the tree. Given below is a list of some common diseases of birch trees.
  • Birch trees are susceptible to a type of fungal disease called anthracnose, which is characterized by brown spots or patches with irregular margins, on the leaves. This disease results in loss of foliage, and also make the trees prone to infestations by insects. Anthracnose can be controlled to some extent by removing and burning the affected leaves and branches. A fungicide spray can also be used.
  • Birch tree diseases include wet wood or slime flux that affects the core and the bark. The trees affected by this disease produce slime that oozes out, and this slime is consumed by insects. This disease is caused by certain types of bacteria. The condition can be identified by the presence of slime, and discoloration of the core and wood. There is no effective method to eliminate this disease; but you can control it to some extent, by timely watering and use of fertilizers.
  • Another common birch tree disease is leaf spots. It is an infection caused by bacteria and fungi, and results in spots on the leaves. In order to control this disease, you have to prevent overcrowding by moderate pruning of branches and leaves. You must also try to remove the fallen leaves, so as to avoid spread of this disease.
  • Heart rot is a common fungal birch tree disease. As their wood is prone to decay, even small injuries may lead to fungal attacks, and cause rotting of living trees. Heart rot is characterized by rotting of the core. As the disease spreads, the affected tree may fall. Minimize pruning of established trees to avoid big wounds that may lead to heart rot.
  • Birch tree diseases include decline, which is characterized by conks. It can be defined as the gradual dying of the trees without any definite cause. It is said that drought conditions along with root damage and other stress factors are behind this condition.
Apart from those mentioned above, there are some pests that commonly affect these trees. They include the bronze birch borer, birch leaf miner, and aphids. So while planting birch trees, get disease-resistant variants, and take care of them in the proper manner. You may contact the local nursery or a horticulturist, for more information about the treatment and prevention of birch tree diseases.