Birch Tree in a Forest

5 Birch Tree Diseases and How to Treat Them

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If you’re concerned about the health of your birch trees, it’s important to be aware of the common diseases affecting them. Although not all diseases may be deadly, they can have a negative effect on the appearance of the tree. If left untreated, diseases can significantly reduce the lifespan of your trees. Regular care is essential if you want to enjoy the full landscaping potential of birch trees.

Some types of birch trees are more resistant to diseases than others. That’s a good reason why people interested in planting this tree should choose a sturdier variety to minimize disease and pest control. Aside from regular maintenance, keeping a birch tree healthy involves timely watering and proper fertilizing. Good practices can also include pruning for diseased trees to prevent an infestation from spreading to other birch trees.




Check out the most common diseases that affect birch trees and learn the best treatment methods.

1. Anthracnose

Anthracnose Birch Tree Disease

This is a fungal disease that can be identified on a birch tree by the presence of irregular brown spots on the leaves. Anthracnose affects most birch species and makes the tree more susceptible to pest infestations. If left unchecked, the disease causes loss of foliage because the leaf will be fully engulfed in dead spots. The problem is exacerbated as diseased leaves can easily spread the fungus to young shoots.




A potent fungicide spray is recommended to deal with anthracnose on a birch tree. Other good disease control practices include the removal of diseased leaves and branches.

2. Birch Dieback

Several types of birch trees can be affected by dieback. This disease affects the crown of the tree. The first signs of birch dieback appear approximately 5-7 years after planting. This disease can kill the branches in the crown and make the tree more exposed to dangerous pests such as the bronze birch borer. Birch dieback slowly but steadily kills the tree if you don’t take action.




There’s no reliable treatment to use for this disease but you can stop the spread of the fungus by pruning and eliminating all the dead branches. Make sure that your pruning shears are properly sterilized between cuttings.

3. Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot Birch Tree Disease

Known to affect European birch species, this disease is characterized by the presence of small black spots on the leaves. The spots can form large patches in time causing total loss of foliage for affected trees. If you don’t take some disease control measures, it’s safe to say that your birch tree can be severely weakened by leaf spot. The tree becomes more vulnerable to other diseases and pests.




Treating the leaf spot disease can be quite challenging because the fungus overwinters in dead foliage. That means you need to include some reliable sanitation practices to remove any infected branches or leaves that will cause the reappearance of the disease.

4. Wet Wood

Most birch tree diseases are caused by fungi but some can appear due to the presence of bacteria. Wet wood is a good example. You can identify this disease by checking for a few distinctive signs. A good indication is a slimy substance on the bark of the tree that attracts insects. The wood will also suffer from discolorations.




Although there’s no proven treatment for wet wood, you can at least minimize its harmful impact on the tree. Consider using a more regular watering schedule and correct nutrient deficiencies with the help of a good fertilizer product.

5. Conks

Conks Birch Tree Disease

While there’s no definite cause for the appearance of conks on birch trees, this disease is likely to emerge if the tree’s roots get damaged. Other stress factors such as extreme drought can contribute to the gradual decline of the tree affected by conks. The most obvious sign of infection is the presence of hard structures on the trunk of the birch tree. Conks cause decay of the wood but sometimes there are no obvious signs of the disease while the tree rots from the inside.

This disease doesn’t have a treatment but fortunately, it’s not as common as other birch tree diseases on this list.


Comments

2 responses to “5 Birch Tree Diseases and How to Treat Them”

  1. Chuck F Avatar
    Chuck F

    Which product could I buy to spray the trunk of my birch trees each spring when they start to leaf out. I’m paying a guy to spray them and I believe, I’m paying to much, and could probably do it myself. He sprayed a product that had these elements to it: fungicide, insecticide, miticide, fertilizer. I also deep root water through out the year and will soon start the deep water fertilizing. My three birch trees are old, I can’t remember when we planted the, but I do think they are at least 10 years old. My wife and I live in Anaheim, CA 92807 zip. Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you Chuck

    1. Stefan B. Avatar
      Stefan B.

      Hi Chuck.

      You can use this fertilizer and insecticide compound: Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed

      If you see other insects starting to appear try using either:

      This pyrethrin based insect killer: Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray

      Or this zinc based disease control compound: Zinc Fungicide

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