Anthracnose and its effect on fall colors

Article by George Krimsky, taken from the Republican-American:
(click photos to enlarge)

The wet weather has generally been good for Connecticut’s trees, but a resulting fungus will put a damper on bright colors during the foliage season, the experts say.

One can see the early results in sugar maples, which normally produce the most fiery fall colors, but are now turning a premature yellowish brown. The cause is a common tree fungus or mold called “anthracnose,” which thrives in the wet, according to tree specialists.

“We sometimes call it leaf ‘acne,’ because it isn’t that harmful but doesn’t look very good,” said Christopher Martin, chief of forestry for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Yes, it’s not a death blow, but you can see the leaves withering,” said Lukas Hyder, forester at the White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield.

Connecticut is not alone. Anthracnose, not to be mistaken for the animal disease anthrax, affects most hardwoods, and is prevalent throughout New England this year, according to foliage reports. In northernmost Maine, maple leaves have already started turning brown and dropping “due to above normal levels of fungi,” according to a recent television news report from Brunswick, Maine.

Vermont, trying to recover from heavy flooding damage in the wake of Hurricane Irene, sees no significant effect on its vaunted maple syrup industry from the fungus, according to the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center.

Contrary to common impressions, DEEP’s Martin said that sugar maples only make up about 5 percent of Connecticut’s deciduous tree population. “It seems like more because they were planted in the most prominent places for their beauty, but you can’t find many in the interior forest,” he said.

Hickory, oak and red maples are far more common in the state, and it is the diversity of hardwood trees that makes Connecticut so attractive to tourists in the fall, he added.

Leaves are expected to start reaching peak color in the state around the Columbus Day weekend the second week of October.

We at Arbor Services would like to urge you to take your fall vacations in Vermont. The entire state was hit very hard by the recent storms. They’re making massive strides in the repairs department, but will be counting on some tourism dollars from the likes of you and me. Go, see the leaves, buy some maple syrup, spend money locally. They’ll appreciate it. Can’t get to Vermont? Do the same thing right here. It’s always been the right thing to do, but now it’s more important than ever.

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