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Land Clearing to Prevent Tar Spot Fungus

25 Jun Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on Land Clearing to Prevent Tar Spot Fungus
Land Clearing to Prevent Tar Spot Fungus

Tar spot fungus is an infection found among the mature leaves of maple and sycamore trees. While the leaves affected by tar spot fungus look very sick indeed, the harm is largely cosmetic. Trees bearing leaves with the distinctive black spots caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum and a few other fungi of the Rhytisma genus remain healthy, despite their damaged foliage. The fungus will not kill a tree outright. Nonetheless, the sites of infection are unsightly, resembling an arboreal measles outbreak. Further, as the tar spots shorten the life of individual leaves, so is the general health of the tree compromised. It is in the best interests of the tree to address the tar spot infection. The disease is best controlled not through the spraying of chemicals, but rather through maintenance.

Reducing the occurrence of tar spot infection requires land clearing of dried leaves. The life cycle of the Rhytisma acerinum continues after the damaged leaves fall in the autumn. Throughout the winter, the spores remain dormant. By the summer, the spores have drifted from the leaf litter to land upon the budding leaves of the very same tree they victimized the previous year, as well as nearby trees. The infection begins as light yellow patches of damage. As the disease develops, the small black fungal bodies that give tar spot fungus its name grow within these bleached areas. It is these tiny bodies in their dried form that the wind carries to the new leaves. Clearing away fallen leaves destroys the fungus, ends the cycle and helps to keep trees safe from tar spot damage.