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Beech Leaf Disease

Beech leaf disease causes a darkening of the leaves between leaf veins. Photo Credit: Jim Chatfield, OSU Extension

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Common Name: Beech Leaf Disease
Scientific Name: Litylenchus crenatae mccannii
Origin: Unknown

Description

Beech leaf disease is a relatively new threat and little is known about the biology of this disease. Current research suggests that it affects the ability of beech trees to photosynthesize and is associated with the nematode, Litylenchus crenatae mccannii. Beech leaf disease can kill mature trees in 6-10 years, young trees even more quickly and saplings in as little as two years. This disease may also make beech trees more susceptible to other pests and pathogens.

Habitat

Beech leaf disease can be found on our native American beech (Fagus grandifolia), as well as on ornamental varieties including European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis).

Threat

American beech is one of the most common tree species in New York State, and birds, black bears and other wildlife rely heavily on beech nuts for food. Beech trees also provide important ecosystem services such as water filtration, carbon sequestration and biodiversity maintenance. They provide great aesthetic value to both our forests and urban green spaces.

Management

Research is ongoing to develop control and eradication measures. Currently, we suggest frequent surveys and monitoring of trees for symptoms. Early detection and monitoring data can be used to determine rates of mortality and infection, as well as current distribution.

Symptoms

Beech leaf disease is characterized by leaves that are striped between the leaf veins, curled along the margins or that have developed a leathery texture. Heavily infected trees may also have reduced leaf and bud production, and a single tree can contain both heavily infected and unaffected branches.

Regional Distribution

Scattered

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 3 – Containment

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart

Pathways

Pathways: More research must be conducted to determine how beech leaf disease spreads and to develop effective prevention protocols. Spread of similar invasive species is prevented by restricting the movement of firewood and wood products, as well as by conducting early detection surveys.

Additional Resources

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Forest Health

Forest Invasives Canada, Beech Leaf Disease