How to Identify Ornamental Tree Diseases

Written by kelly taylor
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Ornamental tree diseases affect the appearance and health of the trees. Most are treated by fungicides and pesticides and do not present a serious problem if caught early. In rare cases, the disease may cause the death of an ornamental tree. Most of the time, a disease is spotted by looking at the leaf to see if it is disfigured in any way. Appropriate measures can be taken to treat the particular disease.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy



  1. 1

    Look to the tops of the ornamental trees to see if they have thinned out, and check for twigs that have died back. Anthracnose attacks the leaves and tiny branches on the trees during spring and summer.

  2. 2

    Identify anthracnose on ornamental dogwoods and sycamores by looking for spots on the leaves or twigs. Anthracnose sometimes mimics frost damage.

  3. 3

    Search for tiny, red indentions that tend to appear on the bracts (modified leaves) of flowers. This type of anthracnose does not kill flowering dogwoods. Trees that are planted in full shade are prone to this particular disease.

    Leaf Diseases

  1. 1

    Notice leaf blister by spotting raised blisters on oak tree leaves and deformed leaves on peach trees.

  2. 2

    Identify diseases on crabapples by noticing brown spots that tend to appear on leaves and fruit. This disease is known to cause defoliation and loss of the tree's vigour.

  3. 3

    Find bull's eye leaf spot on maples, magnolias and sassafras by locating tiny spots with rings on the affected leaves. Bull's eye leaf spot causes leaves to drop early.

  4. 4

    Locate tar spot by picking out a raised, tarry substance on the upper surface of infected leaves on ornamental trees.

  5. 5

    Acknowledge shot hole disease on ornamental cherry trees by noticing circle-shaped lesions where the diseased section falls out of the leaf. Shot hole diseases are caused by fungus or bacteria.

  6. 6

    Pick out powdery mildew by noticing whether there is a whitish-grey, powdery fungus on the leaves. It will look like a blanket on the affected leaves and can be found on oaks, poplar, sycamores and dogwoods.

  7. 7

    Recognise sooty mould by spotting a black fungus growth on the upper parts of the tree's leaves and branches. Trees with sooty mould diseases are often an indication of an insect infestation.

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