Collegeville Educator Warns of Tree Leaf Disease More Pervasive than Lanternflies

Image via Matt Borden, Bartlett Tree Experts.

A disease affecting beech trees across Pennsylvania could be more pervasive than the spotted lanternfly. A Penn State Extension educator in Abington shared her insights on the environmental threat.

Emelie Swackhamer said that she first saw signs of Beech Leaf Disease last June, in the foliage onsite at her Berks County home, according to Frank Kummer in The Philadelphia Inquirer.  

Swackhamer, whose expertise is plant pathology, noticed thinning of the tree canopy on her property.

The disease she eventually identified as the cause can cause leaves to darken, pucker, crinkle, and thicken.  

“This is an emerging threat,” Swackhamer said. “And if people have an ornamental beech tree that’s high value, I would be watching for this.” 

Experts believe this disease is caused by a nematode subspecies originating from Japan

The disease made its debut in Pennsylvania in 2016, first appearing in Crawford County, north of Pittsburgh. It’s spread pretty rapidly and is now present in 65 counties across the Keystone State.   

There isn’t currently a cure, however, the company Bartlett Tree Experts are experimenting with chemical remediation.  

In the meantime, the U.S. Forest Service suggests slowing the spread by destroying diseased trees or pruning diseased leaves.  

Read more about the Beech Leaf Disease in The Philadelphia Inquirer.  

How to identify Beech Leaf Disease.

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