Learn to Diagnose Problems in Your Trees, Including New Beech Disease

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Courtesy of Ohio State University

A mystery illness is hitting northeast Ohio’s American beech trees.

Called beech leaf disease, it’s causing striped and curled leaves, weak buds, and sometimes the death of saplings.

It seems to be spreading fast, too.

“And we really don’t know what’s causing it,” said Kathy Smith, forestry program coordinator at The Ohio State University.

The less-bad news: An upcoming event will shed light on the disease, plus many other problems that can bug Ohio’s trees.

Diseases, pests and whether you need to treat them

Ohio State’s Tree Diagnostic Workshop — subtitled “What’s Wrong With My Tree?” — is Aug. 4 in Mansfield. Smith and others from the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences will teach about spotting tree problems — diseases, pests and more — what to do about them, and will give updates on possible new threats in the state.

It’s for gardeners, landscapers, landowners and others.

“What needs immediate attention? And what’s just cosmetic and won’t hurt the health of the tree? Those are some of the questions we’ll answer,” Smith said.

New beech disease in NE Ohio

So far, beech leaf disease has been officially documented only in Ohio’s Lake, Portage, Trumbull, Geauga, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula counties, plus Crawford County, Pennsylvania, according to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources fact sheet.

But reports have also surfaced in other parts of Ohio, northwest Pennsylvania and southwest New York.

“The point of talking about beech leaf disease is to get people looking for it so we can study it further,” Smith said.

American beech is a signature tree in northeastern North America’s hardwood forests. Its telltale bark is smooth and gray. Its dead autumn leaves, which are bronze to tan, paper-thin, with jagged edges, can stay on the tree through winter.

Cicada damage, more

Other workshop topics will include branch-tip damage from cicada outbreaks, powdery mildew on flowering dogwoods, thousand cankers disease in walnuts, the Asian long-horned beetle and the spotted lantern fly, which hasn’t in fact been spotted in Ohio but is present in eastern Pennsylvania.

The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in 100 Ovalwood Hall, 1760 University Drive, on Ohio State’s mostly wooded regional Mansfield campus.

How to register

Registration is $35 and includes lunch and materials. Details and a link to register online are at go.osu.edu/TreeDiagAugust2017.

Participants are eligible for continuing education credits from the Society of American Foresters, International Society of Arboriculture and Ohio Forest Tax Law program.

Sponsoring the workshop is the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, which is run by the college — and specifically, its Ohio State University Extension outreach arm. Smith is the program’s coordinator.

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