Officials tracking tree fungus

Colin MacLean
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[Summerside, PEI]—Trees here may be affected by the same fungus that is suspected of afflicting trees in the Tignish (Prince Edward Island) area.

Trent Williams, Summerside, Prince Edward Island horticulturalist, collects samples of what he suspects may be Anthracnose, a fungus that may be affecting Island maple trees. (Photo: The Journal Pioneer)

"I have seen some trees symptomatic here of that," says Trent Williams, the city's horticulturalist.

Residents in the western end of the Island have been noticing many maple trees are losing their foliage weeks ahead of schedule and one cause was put forward as being a fungus known as anthracnose.

Several trees within Summerside have been flagged as potentially suffering from the affliction.

But Williams is hesitant to say for sure what is causing so many maple trees to defoliate because there could be a number reasons for it. Trees can lose their leaves for other reasons, such as blight or tar spots, he said.

Samples are being collected today (Aug. 18) and will be sent to Charlottetown for testing. Williams should have the results by the end of the week.

Anthracnose is not something he has seen before during his time in Summerside, he said. But there have been suspected cases in the past.

"It's not rare but it's not extremely common, I mean not from what I've seen over the years. However, it is a fungal disease and conditions are right."

Anthracnose can strike several species of trees. In maples it dries out the leaves causing them to turn brown and die from the centre stem out.

The fungus is not usually deadly for trees, but it can cause them to die if it returns over several consecutive growing seasons.

Williams said one of the only ways to combat the fungus is by treating a tree with lime sulphur in the spring. He also advised that anyone with a suspected tree to clean up fallen leaves as soon as possible to avoid spreading the fungus.

 Dutch elm worries

 Some Summerside residents will be receiving letters next week informing them one or more of their trees has tested positive for Dutch elm disease. The city has already destroyed a small number of trees this summer that have tested positive and have been doing ongoing testing for the destructive disease.

A tree with less than 30 per cent infection has a slim chance of being saved, but trees with more than 30 per cent infection will have to be destroyed.


Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Carol Goodwin
    August 31, 2010 - 13:48

    Both tar spot and anthracnose have been occuring together on maples in Nova Scotia for four or five years now - it probably just blew over to PEI from here! Norway maples are particularly susceptible, but red and sugar maples are affected as well. Shifts in disease incidence are expected with global warming - all the more reason to make sure we don't overplant any one species.

  • kevin cook
    August 29, 2010 - 09:10

    I have a tree that is a norway maple and has been affected by tar spot in past years but especially this year. However, none of the ornamental japanese maples such as Amur, Bloodgood, Inaba Shidare, etc. are affected by that disease. Kevin The Honey Tree Nursery