By Wayne White / Articles / 0 Comments

I have a number of pictures taken in the Fall of 2010 in Detroit, MI on a site with 92 mature sycamore trees. Most of these trees are between 20″ and 35″ in diameter. Anthracnose has obviously been on this site, affecting these trees for many years. Some of the trees are declining to the point where the Cooperative that owns them was nearly ready to consider their removal. After contacting me and learning more about what I can do to save these trees, they have decided to start a gradual multi-year program to rid these trees of the disease. At the same time, we will be working on improving their overall health.

To start with, let’s show a picture of a sycamore tree on an adjacent site in Detroit that looks unaffected at this point from Anthracnose.

Sycamore Anthracnose - Healthy Tree
Healthy Sycamore

The sycamore tree on the left appears to be relatively unaffected by the Anthracnose disease, even though other trees in the area have been struggling for years.  This is quite commonly found and can be explained with the thought: not everyone exposed to a cold virus catches a cold, while some people that catch a cold get much sicker than others. Once we get our sycamore trees back to good health, it is important to keep them adequately watered and fertilized over the course of a growing season. Just as all of us should get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and eat properly to maintain our health. Sycamore trees that are stressed are more susceptible to catching Anthracnose and other pathogens.



Beginnings of Sycamore Anthracnose disease
click on picture for enlarged view

Now in this next picture, we start seeing the tell-tale signs of chronic Anthracnose.  You won’t see the real problem until you click on this picture and look at the close-up.  There, you will see that this tree is not at all as healthy as it appears at first glance. There are a lot of little groups of small branches that the leaves have fallen off of, and the tree is much thinner than the original, healthy sycamore tree. The disease starts as a brown lesion on the veins of the leaves, spreading and crinkling the leaf up, eventually causing it to fall off the tree.



Beginnings of Sycamore anthracnose witches broom
click on picture for enlarged view

In addition, many smaller twigs, visible here, are dying.  Sometimes in the spring, you can get a sudden leaf and twig drop, causing most people to be concerned. But in a short time, the tree starts re-leafing and can look quite normal by June or mid-July. However, then the defoliation re-occurs, sometimes in the same season or sometimes in the following season. This repeated defoliation and re-leafing stresses the tree significantly by lowering stored sugar reserves, subjecting the tree to other damaging problems.


Sycamore anthracnose after repeated years
click on picture for enlarged view

What becomes visible on the tree after these repeated cycles is a growth deformity we refer to as “witches’ broom.” The repeated defoliation and re-leafing keeps happening from the same location, giving the appearance of a broom in various little clumps all over the tree. The overall health of the tree is declining and this new deformed growth is unattractive.



Sycamore anthracnose - witches broom growth characteristics
click on picture for enlarged view

While the tree may survive for a few years with this reoccurring problem, this next picture shows what starts to happen to our sycamore trees.  The “witches’ broom” look get very pronounced. This deformed growth starts looking terrible and the leaf and twig drop gets even worse. Then what happens is the discussion about removing these trees, as most people do not realize this problem is controllable and reversible. You need to have a two pronged approach to solving this problem. 1) Treat the disease; and 2) increase the overall health of the tree by encouraging the tree to replenish its long-depleted sugar reserves. This usually takes two years. More about the specifics of how to treat sycamores with Anthracnose are in the Treatment Info section of this website.


If you are having problems with your sycamore trees and the Anthracnose disease, contact me! I can help. Wouldn’t you love to have your old tree back and stop the massive clean-up in your yard each year? You need a Board Certified Master Arborist that knows how to deal with your tree problems.

By Wayne White / Articles / 0 Comments
Sycamore tree - heavy bark exfoliation
Sycamore Tree – Heavy Bark Exfoliation

Large amounts of bark falling off of a sycamore tree is not a sign of Sycamore Anthracnose. Sycamore trees lose their bark (it’s called exfoliating) as a part of their normal growth process. While the exfoliation does appear to be worse in certain years than others, and although there has been very little agreement over the years as to what causes it, there is a definite agreement that Sycamore Anthracnose is not the cause. This is a picture from one of my customer’s trees where his yard was littered with bark chunks.

By Wayne White / Articles / 0 Comments

There are several signs of Sycamore Anthracnose. Twig and leaf drop in the late spring, thinning crowns, distorted limb growth, and / or “witches’ broom” growth are the most common characteristics of this disease. Many of these signs are visible in this picture.

Sycamore Anthracnose symptoms
Sycamore Anthracnose Signs
By Wayne White / Pictures / 0 Comments

This sycamore tree is being injected with fungicide for the treatment of Sycamore Anthracnose. There are 92 sycamore trees on this site, all infected to some degree with this chronic disease. In addition, the trees are being soil treated with a special mix of fertilizer and organic products to increase their health. If you have similar problems with your sycamore tree, please contact me! There is a treatment available to fix this problem.

By Wayne White / Pictures / 0 Comments

The “witches’ broom” growth characteristics are even more pronounced in this picture. The repeated leaf and twig infection causes them to drop from the tree. When this is repeated year after year, this causes severe growth deformity. The tree needs to rid itself of this repeated infection, but needs help to do it. Over a few years of proper treatment and fertilization, sycamore trees can recover from this disease. The key is to catch it before the decline gets too bad.

By Wayne White / Pictures / 0 Comments

Here is “witches’ broom” that is very simple to spot. The advanced distorted growth is caused by the Anthracnose disease. Leaves and twigs frequently fall during the late spring, and occasionally all season, but then the tree re-leafs. The overall health of the tree suffers from this, and if repeated year after year, could subject the tree to severe decline.

By Wayne White / Pictures / 0 Comments

A close-up of this sycamore tree shows the “witches’ broom” growth characteristics that are associated with Anthracnose. This is caused by the repeated death of small, new branches as they get infected each spring and die. A new sprout grows out from a location and dies, which leads to a new sprout growing out of the same location and also dying. This occurrence repeats several times, and causes the dead shoots to look like a broom.

By Wayne White / Pictures / 0 Comments

This is one of the sycamore trees showing minor Anthracnose problems. There is some stunting of growth, and it is less healthy looking than the first tree with some die-back and infected twigs. It may be difficult to see, but this sycamore tree has the tell-tale signs of “witches’ broom.”