Does Your Dogwood Have Anthracnose?

Is your Dogwood tree looking wilted, spotted, and less than stellar? If so, it may be suffering from Dogwood Anthracnose. Dogwood Anthracnose, Discula destructiva, is a damaging disease that attacks various species of Dogwoods. Dogwoods are extremely common in landscapes around the area which causes this disease to spread easily throughout landscape dogwoods and cause disfigurement of foliage each year. First detected in the 1970s, this invasive fungal disease easily infects and harms dogwoods because trees native to this area have no natural protection from the fungus. If you have a dogwood read on to learn how to identify signs of the disease and how to protect your trees this year and in future years.

Susceptible Trees:

Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) which are commonly found in Virginia and Pacific dogwoods (C. nuttallii) are susceptible to Dogwood Anthracnose. Other species of dogwoods such as Kousa dogwood (C. kousa), Tatarian dogwood (C. alba), and Redosier dogwood (C. sericea) are resistant to this disease and are a good option for landscapes that are prone to dogwood anthracnose.

Signs Of Dogwood Anthracnose:

Spring is one of the most common times for Dogwoods to contract Anthracnose; however, many times you will not see the symptoms until late spring or summer. If you have a Dogwood on your property your should routinely inspect it for signs of Dogwood Anthracnose such as:

  • Tan to brown leaf spots which may have purple rings around them
  • Wilting of Leaves
  • Blotches on leaves
  • Defoliation – early leaf drop
  • Cankers on stems and twigs
  • Dieback of entire branches/sections
  • Death of the tree in severe cases

How Does Dogwood Anthracnose Spread?

Anthracnose spreads and thrives in wet conditions. In winter months it hides in fallen leaves and dead twigs until the fungus is awakened by rainfall and then spread to the tree’s new growth. This makes it very easy for a tree that battled Anthracnose last year to re-contract the fungus this year.

How To Treat Dogwood Anthracnose:

Once infected, dogwood anthracnose can be treated with routine fungicide applications. However, the damage that is already done to the tree’s leaves and stems can not be reversed which is why prevention is so important when it comes to fungal diseases, especially Dogwood Anthracnose. But you can rest assured your tree won’t look disfigured forever, if you keep up with fungicide applications to keep your tree from being reinfected the next spring, the new growth will be normal and won’t show signs of Dogwood Anthracnose.

Prevent Dogwood Anthracnose

You can prevent dogwood anthracnose and make your tree stronger by getting preventative fungicide applications and following proper tree care maintenance. If your tree is already infected, the tips below are still recommended because they can help your tree fight the fungal disease and lower the chance of reinfection but are most effective in conjunction with fungicide treatments.

Bio-stimulants contain a natural blend of sugars, bacteria, humic acid, sea kelp extract, and good fungi. This mix naturally fertilizes the soil and provides your tree with the food they need to grow and maintain overall wellness. Bio-stimulants support the immune system of the tree so they are better equipped to resist and survive an attack of Dogwood Anthracnose.

It’s common for the soil in our landscapes to be compacted. Compacted soil doesn’t have room for oxygen and micro-organisms to thrive. Soil compaction can lead to your tree not getting enough nutrients, oxygen, or water which causes stress. Stressed trees are more likely to develop diseases and succumb to them. To make sure your tree is best equipped to fight Dogwood Anthracnose you should have soil aeration performed.

Perform Sanitation Raking:
This means raking up all the leaves underneath and surrounding your Dogwood during the winter and disposing of them to keep Anthracnose spores in the leaves from reinfecting the next year’s growth.

Don’t overwater your trees in the spring & make sure your soil drains properly. Fungi thrive in moisture so you don’t want to overwater your trees. The soil should be moist (some dry patches are okay) but it shouldn’t be so wet you could make a mud ball. Learn more about proper watering.

If you have a dogwood tree that’s showing signs of Anthracnose or if you’re interested in the preventative treatment to schedule a consultation with one of our Certified Arborists. Book online or give us a call at 703-573-3029

3 thoughts on “Does Your Dogwood Have Anthracnose?”

  1. Diana owen says:

    New planted dogwood this spring has wilted leaves , what should I do ?

    1. Rtectree says:

      Thank you for your inquiry, Ms. Owen. We’d suggest having a Certified Arborist come out to take a look at your dogwood. While the issue could be caused by anthracnose, which is common to dogwoods, there are other factors that could be contributing to the wilted leaves. For instance, newly transplanted trees often struggle to get acclimated to their new environment. If you are in our service are, please give us a call or visit our website to book an appointment with a Certified Arborist. If you are outside of our service area, we encourage you to find a Certified Arborist who services your zip code by searching on Thank you!

  2. Nancy Roberts says:

    i heard this disease was decimating texas dogwoods right after i purchased two new dogwoods from certified nursery in Tennesee. I’ve placed my two dogwoods too close to my peach tree and need to move them soon. Small flies surrounded them and they started getting spots but i bought Neem oil and the bugs are gone, tiny red spots are all that’s left of the former big spots. This is some really good advice and i’m saving this website under faves. Thanks a bunch.

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