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Plant Diseases/Help, my Leyland Cypress are turning brown on he bottom!

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Hey, I have 12 Leyland Cypress in my front yard. They are approximately 5 years old, about 7 feet tall. On the majority of the trees are turning brown on the bottom. How should I treat this? Should I cut off the brown twigs? Thank you!

Answer
Sorry it tool so long have had computer problems.

Leland cypress trees are subject to a couple of canker type diseases that effect the foliage.

Seiridium canker is probably the most important and destructive disease on Leyland cypress in the landscape. Although the fungi Seiridium cardinale, Seiridium unicorne, and Seiridium cupressi have been reported to cause disease on Leyland cypress and other needled evergreens, only Seiridium unicorne is most commonly associated with cankers and twig dieback on Leyland cypress.

One of the most noticeable symptoms of Seiridium canker is yellowing or browning of the foliage on one or more top or lateral branches. The discoloration is most likely to appear in early spring; however, it can be seen at any time of the year. The disease expansion often continues until a significant portion of the tree is destroyed. Upon closer examination, formation of numerous thin, elongated cankers is observed on stems, branches and branch axils. These cankers cause twig and branch dieback. Most of the cankers are slightly sunken, with raised margins, and they may be discolored dark brown to purple. Cracked bark in infected areas is often accompanied by extensive resin exudates that flow down the diseased branches. The cambial tissue beneath oozing sites is discolored with a reddish to brown color.

To minimize water loss and water competition with other plant species such as turf, mulch an area several feet beyond the lowest limbs. During hot, dry summer days, irrigate trees thoroughly around the base of the tree every 7-14 days, depending on soil composition. Take special care for trees located near drive-ways, paved areas or heat-reflecting buildings. Providing adequate irrigation during periods of drought is the best defense against Seiridium canker disease. Do not over water.

Sanitation, such as removal of cankered twigs and branches, helps prevent disease spread. Destroy pruned materials, and disinfect pruning tools by rinsing in rubbing alcohol or a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Remove extensively damaged trees or trees that are damaged in the main trunk.

No cultivars or selections are known to be resistant to the disease. In the landscape, fungicides are seldom used and they provide no control once an infection has taken place.

Another damaging disease on Leyland cypress in landscapes is a canker and dieback named Botryosphaeria (Bot) canker, caused by the fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea. This aggressive disease affects a number of woody shrubs and trees worldwide, and it has been reported on azaleas, rhododendrons, flowering dogwoods and redbuds, among others. Plants suffering from environmental stresses (freezing, drought, or heat) or wounds are particularly susceptible to B. dothidea infection in landscape plantings.

In the landscape, Bot canker symptoms resemble those caused by Seiridium canker. Bright, rust-colored branches and yellowing or browning of shoots or branches are the first observed symptoms. Closer inspection reveals the presence of sunken, girdling cankers at the base of the dead shoot or branch. Sometimes, the main trunk shows cankers that might extend for a foot or more in length. These cankers rarely girdle the trunk, but they will kill branches that may be encompassed by the canker as it grows.

Canker surfaces may be cracked and have a darker color than the surrounding healthy bark. The discoloration often extends several inches below the canker periphery. Little or no resin "oozing" is produced on the infected areas.

To minimize water loss and water competition, mulch an area several feet beyond the lowest limbs. Removal of diseased twigs and branches helps prevent disease spread. Remove and destroy pruned material and disinfect pruning tools. Remove extensively damaged trees. In the landscape, no fungicides are recommended to control Bot canker.


WHAT TO DO

On trees already infected, the best control is to prune the brown (dead) branches from the tree. This will make the tree look better, but also it will reduce disease spread by reducing the fungal innoculum. Once this is done, then irrigation is the best remedy to prevent any smaller cankers from expanding to kill more of the plant.

The one thing that has to be stressed is that the infection occurred years ago, and it is only now after the cankers have enlarged that the symptoms are evident. Therefore, fungicides are not effective in controlling the diseases at this time. There is no way to spray the entire tree at very regular intervals (every 7 days) throughout the year to try to prevent diseases that can be effectively prevented by not injuring or stressing the trees such as don't plant trees too close together and irrigate during periods of drought or in summer when rain cannot be counted on.  

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30 years experiance in the ID and management of forest diseases and ID of landscape tree diseases.

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