FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2020
Contact: John J. Scott
Parks and Recreation Department
Local Sycamore Trees Suffering from Non-Deadly Fungal Infection
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.— Fayetteville residents have been wondering: what is going on with the sycamore trees around town? The trees do not have as many leaves as they normally do, and the leaves produced are turning brown and wilting. What is causing this problem? Our local population of sycamore trees are suffering from anthracnose, which is a fungus called Apignomonia venta. Although this disease will rarely kill the tree, it does make it weak and will make it vulnerable to pests and other diseases that could cause the tree to die. Trees, like humans, are more susceptible to disease when they are weakened.
What to do? The fungus will live on dead leaves, twigs and branches, so removing the debris from the ground and pruning infected branches are effective means of helping the tree. The fungus can overwinter on dead leaves, twigs and other debris, so it is important to remove the debris promptly. Younger trees can be treated with a fungicide in the early spring before leaves start budding. Our larger sycamores are too big for this treatment. Pruning, debris removal, and lots of patience are the best course of action for large sycamores.
Infected leaf and twig debris should not be dropped at the City’s mulching facility, as the fungus can continue to live in the mulch and potentially spread to other trees. You can, however, compost the small twigs and leaves at the City’s composting facility, located at 1708 S. Armstrong. During the composting process, our rows heat up to 140 degrees for several days, which will kill the fungus. Do not compost the leaves, twigs or branches from infected trees in your home compost unless you are sure the compost reaches 140 degrees or higher for several days. Larger infected branches should be disposed of by other means such as burning. Remember to call the Fayetteville Fire Department at 479-973-4801 to request a burn permit if you opt to burn infected limbs.
Sycamores will usually produce a second set of leaves later in the summer when the weather is dryer, so be patient with the larger trees, they have been through this before and will make it. Older sycamores have an irregular branching pattern as a response to repeated infections. This is a cyclical problem with sycamore trees, and the vast majority will survive.
For additional information about anthracnose in sycamore trees please visit https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7533.pdf.