Beech Bark Disease – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Tree Diseases and Pests Glossary

I. What is Beech Bark Disease?

Beech Bark Disease (BBD) is a devastating condition that affects American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia). It is caused by a combination of a scale insect known as the beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga) and a fungus called Neonectria faginata. The disease was first discovered in the early 20th century in Nova Scotia, Canada, and has since spread throughout the northeastern United States and parts of Canada.

II. What causes Beech Bark Disease?

Beech Bark Disease is caused by a two-step process. First, the beech scale insect feeds on the sap of the beech tree, creating wounds in the bark. These wounds allow the fungus Neonectria faginata to enter the tree and infect the inner bark, leading to cankers and ultimately the death of the tree.

III. What are the symptoms of Beech Bark Disease?

The symptoms of Beech Bark Disease include thinning crowns, dieback of branches, and the presence of cankers on the trunk and branches of affected trees. The cankers are often characterized by a reddish-brown discoloration of the bark and may ooze a reddish-brown liquid. Infected trees may also exhibit yellowing or wilting leaves, and in severe cases, the entire tree may die.

IV. How does Beech Bark Disease impact beech trees?

Beech Bark Disease can have a significant impact on beech trees, leading to reduced growth, increased susceptibility to other pests and diseases, and ultimately tree mortality. In areas where the disease is prevalent, large numbers of beech trees have been killed, leading to changes in forest composition and structure.

V. How can Beech Bark Disease be managed or treated?

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for Beech Bark Disease. However, there are some management strategies that can help reduce the spread and impact of the disease. These include removing and destroying infected trees, promoting tree health through proper pruning and fertilization, and monitoring for signs of the disease to take early action.

VI. What is the current status of Beech Bark Disease in forests?

Beech Bark Disease continues to be a significant threat to beech trees in forests throughout the northeastern United States and parts of Canada. Efforts are underway to better understand the disease and develop strategies for managing its impact. Research is ongoing to identify resistant tree species and develop biological control methods to help mitigate the spread of the disease. Despite these efforts, Beech Bark Disease remains a major concern for forest managers and conservationists.