Maple tree fungus among us

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT
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TOWN OF RODMAN, New York (WWNY) - A new fungus is attacking many area maple trees. It’s called maple anthracnose and it’s causing the end of spring to look more like the end of fall.

In Rodman, Cathy Moore enjoys the shade and foliage her maple trees provide. But this year, they don’t look quite right.

“I was just doing some general springtime cleaning and yard work and I noticed these dried up leaves all over my yard. I swept them, and within hours, my deck was covered again,” she said.

Moore called Sue Gwise at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County

The horticultural educator says the fungus has been popping up all over the area.

“This year it has become very noticeable. Our office has become flooded with calls because people are fearful that their maples are dying,” she said.

But, rest assured, with this fungus, its bark is worse than its bite. It won’t kill your tree, and it likely won’t affect maple production either.

“There’s the potential that it could reduce the photosynthesis activity of the tree, thus reducing maple output, but that’s hard to say at this point,” said Gwise.

But what caused the disease? Well, you may remember the cold spell we had at the end of May.

“The leaves were just starting to come out and we think they got stalled. The cold weather stalled them and they were just sitting there for a few days, and that was the perfect opportunity for the fungus to invade,” said Gwise.

If your tree is found to be infected, there’s not much you can do. It just has to run its course for the season. But, you can protect surrounding trees by picking up the leaves that have fallen, so the fungus spores don’t spread.

“It’s probably going to be something we just see this season,” said Gwise.

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