Dogwood Anthracnose: Dogwoods Aren’t In The Clear Yet!

dogwood anthracnose 2

Dogwood Anthracnose is a very common and visually unappealing disease to which the Cornus florida is extremely susceptible. Cornus florida, commonly known as the flowering Dogwood, is very common in our area and is even Virginia’s state tree. Now days, we utilize Dogwoods for their aesthetic appeal; however, during the American Civil War they were best known for their bark which was used to make tea to treat pain and fevers. Dogwoods were also used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine.  However, just because they used to be used as medicine doesn’t mean Dogwoods can protect themselves from diseases like Anthracnose.


2017 UPDATE: Because of the weather we are having this spring, Anthracnose is likely to wreck havoc on Dogwoods this season. In order to protect your dogwood, make sure you know how to identify, prevent, and treat Dogwood Anthracnose. 

dogwood anthracnose 1Anthracnose is a fungal disease that displays  a wide range of symptoms including:

Symptoms of Anthracnose

  • Tan to brown leaf spots which may have purple rings around them
  • Wilting of Leaves
  • Blotches
  • Defoliation
  • Cankers
  • Dieback
  • Death

If left untreated Anthracnose will continue to worsen year after year until the Dogwood dies.

However, Dogwoods are not the only trees affected by this disease. Other susceptible trees include; ash, oaks, sycamores, maple, and other deciduous hardwoods. In these species, Anthracnose typically isn’t fatal but it does weaken the tree which attracts other deadly insects and diseases.

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. Unfortunately, your tree is already showing signs of Anthracnose, there is nothing an Arborist can do to cure the damage this is why preventative care for Anthracnose prone trees, like the Dogwood, is so important. However, Arborists can stop further damage from occurring by applying a fungicide.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Dogwood Anthracnose Treatment

Preventative Dogwood Anthracnose treatment typically includes  3-4 fungicide treatments throughout the spring and summer to keep Anthracnose from infecting the tree. If the timing of the first treatments has passed you can still keep your tree from being infected with Anthracnose by starting a Dogwood Protection Program as soon as possible. If your tree is already showing signs of Anthracnose you can stop further damage by starting a Dogwood Protection Program as well. An Arborist may also recommend performing fertilization and pruning to help combat the fungal disease.

What Can You Do To Prevent Dogwood Anthracnose?

  • 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.
  • Get your Dogwoods treated with a Fungicide by a Certified Arborist
  • Invest in a Canopy Protection Program to make your Dogwood healthier and stronger overall which in turn makes it less susceptible to diseases and insects.

If you want to protect your dogwoods from Dogwood Anthracnose book a consultation online with one of our Certified Arborist or call our office at 703.573.3029

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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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