Bacterial Leaf Scorch On Oaks & Other Shade Trees

Bacterial Leaf ScorchOur shade trees provide a useful service to us during these last hot days of summer. They give us relief from the hot sun during cookouts and holiday barbecues as well as give us a cool place to enjoy the last few days of summer.  But while you are enjoying their benefits, your trees might be screaming for help from a devastating disease called Bacterial Leaf Scorch.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch, discovered in New Jersey in the early 1990’s, attacks shade trees and is caused by the xylem-clogging bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa.  Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissues in trees; by clogging these tissues the bacteria restricts the flow of water from the roots to the crown of the tree. This dehydration causes the tree to appear to be under drought stress even when the tree has access to enough water.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch is a chronic disease that if left untreated will cause dieback, secondary invaders, branch death, and ultimately death.

Highly susceptible trees include Oaks, Elms, Sycamores, and Sweet Gum. 


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Entire Tree Showing Bacterial Leaf Scorch Symptoms John Hartman, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org;

Symptoms Of Bacterial Leaf Scorch:

  • Leaves develop normally early in the season and symptom expression begins in June and July.
  • Marginal Leaf Scorch: Necrosis begins along the leaf margin and spreads toward the veins in an irregular pattern.
  • Green healthy tissue is separated from the dead tissue by a yellow or reddish brown band or halo.
  • Decline in vigor
  • Branch dieback
  • Defoliation
  • Bacterial leaf scorch symptoms will reappear in the same limbs year after year and eventually spread to other limbs.
  • Eventually, trees will be met with a premature death.


Need Help With Bacterial Leaf Scorch?

Or Call 703.573.3029


Bacterial Leaf Scorch Treatment:

Bacterial leaf scorch is typically suppressed with an antibiotic injection during spring/summer and a treatment of tree growth regulator.

By injecting the antibiotics, the tree’s vascular system pulls the antibiotics throughout the whole tree, suppressing the infection. Although micro-injections are a therapeutic treatment rather than a cure for Bacterial Leaf Scorch the results can be dramatic.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch

Think you have bacterial leaf scorch? Call us today 703.573.3029 or book a free consultation online.


Learn More About Bacterial Leaf Scorch & Antibiotic Injections By Watching The Video Below!

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Samantha Huff

Samantha Huff is the marketing coordinator at RTEC Treecare. She enjoys learning about the technical aspects of trees and the insects and diseases that prey on them. She hopes that these articles can help homeowners gain control of their tree and shrub maintenance by being aware of the signs and symptoms of unhealthy trees.
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