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Anthracnose

William Jacobi, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Anthracnose diseases of hardwood trees are widespread throughout the Eastern United States. The most common symptom of these diseases is dead areas or blotches on the leaves. Because of the brown and black, scorched appearance of the leaves, the diseases are sometimes called leaf blight.

The symptoms vary somewhat, depending on the host. Under certain conditions, the whole leaf dies and falls prematurely. On some tree species, the diseases may also damage twigs, shoots, buds, and fruits. Repeated defoliation reduces growth, weakens the tree, and increases its susceptibility to attack by other pests and to winter injury.

These diseases are caused by several closely related fungi, plants that reproduce by means of spores - the fungal equivalent of seeds. Spores spread the disease when moved by wind, rain, or mechanical means from one host to another.

Hosts
Anthracnose fungi attack numerous hardwood species, including ash, basswood, birch, catalpa, elm, hickory, horsechestnut, London planetree, maple, oak, sycamore, tuliptree, and walnut.

Although anthracnose diseases have been found wherever these trees grow, not all hardwoods are equally affected. The diseases are particularly severe on American sycamore, white oak and other oaks in the white oak group, and black walnut. Sometimes, these species are almost completely defoliated; and on black walnut, nut production is affected. Infections are frequently found on other oak species, including scarlet, black, red, and southern red oaks; but the red oaks appear to be less susceptible than the white oaks. Pin oak, swamp chestnut oak, bur oak, and London planetree are only occasionally infected by the fungi.
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