Willow Scab Gives Your Willows A Reason To Weep

Weeping willows are known for their beautiful tendrils which hang and blow in the breeze. Typically found in swampy areas and along the banks of ponds, willows add character to many yards. If you have a willow on your property, it's important to keep an eye on it for signs of illness. A disease known as willow scab is quite serious, and could easily leave you weeping over the loss of your beautiful willow if you don't detect and treat it in a timely manner.

What is willow scab?

Willow scab is a fungal infection that is most common in the eastern United States and Canada. It was brought to North America from Europe in the 1900s, and has killed many willow trees over the last century. It affects most species of willow trees, weeping and non-weeping.

What are the symptoms of willow scab?

Trees with willow scab develop irregularly shaped brown spots on their leaves. Typically, these spots are found along the main veins of the leaf. After a few weeks, the spots turn olive green and develop a slightly fuzzy texture, caused by the development of the fungal spores. As the disease progresses, badly infected leaves may fall from the tree. Cankers begin to form, first on the small branches, and eventually on the main branches and trunk.

How should willow scab be treated?

It's best to treat willow scab during its early stages before cankers begin to form. A tree care expert, like Mead Tree & Turf Care Inc, can trim off the infected limbs and spray the rest of the tree with a fungicide to prevent the disease from spreading. If treated early, most trees recover within a season or two.

When willow scab is not discovered until cankers are formed, treatment is more difficult. A tree care expert can cut out the canker and treat the surrounding wood with copper-based fungicides. However, if a large enough portion of the trunk or branches is damaged, the tree is left susceptible to other diseases and insect blights, which may eventually claim its life.

Can you prevent willow scab?

The fungus that causes willow scab loves the wet environments where willows tend to grow, and there is little you can do to protect your trees from this disease. However, by treating trees that do show early signs of infection, you can reduce the chances of the disease spreading to other nearby willows.

Willow scab is quite common in North America, so if you have a willow tree on your property, it's not unlikely that it will develop this infection at some point in its life. By being proactive and taking note of your trees' leaf conditions on a regular basis, you can ensure willow scab is caught early, when it's easy to treat. 


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