My Sycamore Tree Is Rotting and the Branches Are Dying

Updated April 17, 2017

You can find sycamore trees as far north as southern Ontario or as far south as Florida. They are distinct in look because they shed their bark. But growths on them can indicate disease. They typically grow to be 100 feet in height, so wind damage is possible. Initially, the tree bark is thin and white in colour, but as the tree continues to grow, the bark becomes brown. Tree rot can be brown, too, though. A close look can help you determine what is causing problems in your sycamore.

Tree Threats

Threats to the health of sycamore trees include insects and disease, as well as Mother Nature. Air pollution, fire scorching, ice and high winds are natural threats to the sycamore. Sycamore anthracnose, powdery mildew and sycamore lace bug, as well as root and wood rots, canker and wood decay fungi round out some other sycamore tree threats.

Defoliation and Death

Tree defoliation is one initial sign that you have a serious sycamore tree problem that can result in branches dying and the tree rotting. In fact, if the tree is totally defoliated by late summer, the sycamore lace bug is likely the culprit. White stippling occurs first with this problem and you can see evidence on the undersides of your tree leaves. Sycamore lace bug defoliation is more likely to happen in an urban rather than a natural setting. Look for white bugs on the underside of your leafs if you start to notice defoliation, especially if it occurs in the summer. Defoliation can occur because of other insects and disease as well.

Fungus and Limb Death

You can see evidence that a wood decay fungi is at work in destroying your sycamore tree by the physical manifestation it produces. Fruiting bodies -- a protruding mushroom-looking and -shaped object -- will appear on your sycamore tree around any tree wounds in the tree's bark, on branches or even at the root crown. Fungi isn't always shaped like a mushroom, and can differ in colour from brown all over to brown on top with white on the bottom, for example. Artists conk and hairy turkey tail are two fungi that attack weakened sycamore trees, destroying the inside of the tree trunk and branch wood.

Other Symptoms and Signs

If you notice shoot dieback or some twig death, you are looking at sycamore anthracnose disease. It might appear to look like frost damage. You will notice brown areas on the leaves. Canker will appear on the trunk and the branches as well. Greyish white material in circular patches observed on your sycamore leaves can indicate powdery mildew. Expect this problem in areas that are shady and high in humidity.

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About the Author

Holly Huntington's writing has been published online by eHow.