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American Beech Tree Disease and Insects

The American beech tree grows in New England, down through the Mid-Atlantic States into the Florida panhandle. This hardwood tree, which makes a good ornamental for open areas, also occurs into eastern Texas, southeast Missouri and the upper Midwest. In northern Michigan, Beech trees are very common however in Franklin, Bloomfield and Birmingham we tend to see rare specimens instead of groves of Beech trees. American beech tree can grow to average heights between 60 and 80 feet, but taller specimens are possible, with some well over 100 feet high. The American beech has a spreading crown, as wide as 80 feet in some cases. The lower branches often grow horizontal to the ground, with many drooping downwards. Many of the lower branches will wind up growing in such a manner that they come into contact with the ground around the tree. American beech trees leaves are simple and about 2 to 5 inches long. The bark of a beech tree is a thin gray bark it is smooth to the touch, the bark remains smooth even as the tree ages. This tree has fruiting nuts that are like a medium size prickly.

Beech Bark Tree Insects

  • Bark Beetle
  • Longhorn Asian Beetle
  • Scale
  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars


Beech Bark Tree Diseases

Beech Bark Disease – is a complex disease resulting from the interaction of sap-sucking insects, known as Beech Scale or Crytococcus fagisug and two species of fungi, Nectria coccinea var. faginata and Nectria galligen.  Beech Bark Disease occurs when the feeding site of woolly Beech Scale is invaded by the fungus nectria coccinea var faginata. The fungus kills the bark and in the process, the insects. There are no satisfactory controls for the fungus. Control the disease by controlling the Scale, and or aggressive pruning of damaged and infected areas.

Bleeding Canker – caused by the fungus Phytophthora cactorum, forms cankers from which a brownish liquid oozes. Crown symptoms include leaves of smaller size and lighter green color than normal. In severe cases the leaves wilt and the branches die. There is no chemical control of this canker. Avoid feeding with high nitrogen fertilizers as it seems to worsen the condition of infected trees.

Cankers: The beech scale, C. fagisuga, usually infests trees more than 8 inches in diameter, but it is also found on smaller trees. An individual C. fagisuga is tiny, but the insect secretes a white, woolly wax covering that can be seen easily. The insect may cluster in cracks or under branches, or may cover the entire trunk. Eggs hatch in late summer. There are many vectors including, wind and perching birds that inadvertently spread the insects. During winter the Scales lose their legs, secrete their protective covering, and pierce the bark to feed. Thereafter they do not move. The insects can no longer live where the fungus has killed the bark. The asexual stage of Nectria produces a cushion of white spores during wet weather in the summer. These cushions resemble the woolly secretions of C. fagisuga. The small, red fruiting bodies of the sexual stage are found in clusters. They mature in the fall and can be seen best then. Fungal invasion is apparent 3 to 5 years after the scale insects appear. Dark, dead patches are produced where other fungi, such as species of Hypoxylon enter. Nectria infection points may become walled off with callus tissue, giving the tree a “pock-marked” appearance. Some trees are killed within a year after Nectria is apparent; others linger for several years. The leaves of the latter turn yellow early in the growing season, and the crowns are thin. Trees that survive a first attack may become re-infested and die later. A few trees seem to be resistant to scale infestation

Powdery mildew causes a white coating on the leaves. The disease is most common late in the season.

Several fungi cause leaf spots but are generally not serious to warrant chemical control.

**Note: During periods of high temperatures and low rainfall beech may scorch. Make sure trees are adequately watered.

How we can help

We have the ability to either trunk inject American beech tree or spray them with scale insecticides so the insect does not accelerate the disease cycle. We have had excellent control in wooded properties both in Northern Michigan and in Bloomfield neighborhoods. Feel free to request a quote.

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