Cytospora Canker on Spruce Trees


Cytospora CankerPicture courtesy of University of Illinois Extension.

We very often get called to a customer’s house because their Spruce trees are dying from the bottom up, and even though they are pruning the dead limbs out, the trees continue to die!

Most often, we find that the trees have Cytospora Canker (Sphaeropsi sapineas, or Siroccus conigenus)   which is a disease that can kill the tree over a short period of time if not managed at all.

The spec sheet on this disease can be found at the University of Illinois Extension.

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“The fungus attacks trees or parts of trees that are injured or in a weak or stressed condition. The fungus grows in the living bark (phloem) and wood (xylem) and kills by girdling the branch or tree. The fungus can attack tree bark during the fall-winter and spring seasons when temperatures are warm but the tree is dormant and cannot defend itself. Trees affected by drought, late spring frosts, insect and fungi defoliation, sunscald, herbicides, or mechanical injury are susceptible to Cytospora infection. The disease especially affects trees with root damage, which are often found in areas under con­struc­tion, or trees that recently have been transplanted.” Colorado State University Extension Jan. 2014 


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Once a tree gets the disease, the only way to avoid the spread of this disease is to suppress the symptoms.  This can be done thru proper pruning and disposal of the dead limbs.  All pruning tools must be disinfected between cuts to avoid further contamination to the tree.  Infected needles and limbs should be removed from the site promptly and disposed of properly and according to municipal codes.  Fertilizers should be used to help recover and stimulate new growth on the tree.  And avoid over watering your Spruce trees!!  If you have an automatic sprinkler system, set them to avoid spraying the Spruce trees directly.  Water Spruces deeply every 2-3 weeks instead of using a sprinkler system during times of drought.

During rainy seasons, Spruce trees are more susceptible to fungal infection, so take care not to prune trees during these times.

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If local to McHenry County, IL, you may contact us below if you suspect your trees may be infected:

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