Beech leaf disease found in all of Western New York; report affected trees

leaves with beech leaf disease
Striping is one of the symptoms of beech leaf disease. Photo courtesy Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Ontario)

Beech leaf disease (BLD), which affects all species of beech trees, has been identified in in all eight counties of Western New York.

DEC is asking the public to submit reports through NYimapInvasives if they encounter a beech tree showing signs of BLD.

The main symptom to look for on beech foliage is darkened striping between the veins, which is best seen when looking up through the canopy. Leaves with severe symptoms can be heavily banded and crinkled, with a thickened leathery texture.

There is no known treatment for infected trees.

However, research is taking place. While that is going on, you can help by reporting potential BLD infections using iMapInvasives so scientists can track the spread of the disease. View the Beech Leaf Disease map.

See more information about beech leaf disease.

Background on beech leaf disease in WNY

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began tracking BLD in 2018 after it was confirmed in Chautauqua County.

Beech leaf disease affects all varieties of beech, according to the DEC. Not only could the disease have far reaching consequences for hardwood forests and wildlife, it could impact urban areas; the copper beech cultivar is a popular choice for landscaping and street trees.

BLD appears to be a bigger threat than beech bark disease, which is already impacting beech trees, according to the DEC.

Much is still unknown about BLD, including how it spreads, but it can kill mature beech trees in six to 10 years and saplings in as little as two years.

BLD symptoms are associated with the nematode Litylenchus crenatae mccannii. It is unknown whether the nematode causes all of the damage, or if it is in association with another pathogen such as a virus, bacteria or fungus.

More information is needed to develop an effective treatment. DEC is working with the Cornell Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, neighboring states, and New York’s Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs). Together they will survey for new infections, track disease progression using long-term monitoring plots, and investigate the nematode’s role in the disease.

For questions about potential tree pests or pathogens, email photos and a description to foresthealth@dec.ny.gov.

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