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Press Release DCR Foresters Identify Beech Leaf Disease in the Commonwealth

Public Asked to Monitor Beech Trees and Report Potential Infection
For immediate release:
8/19/2020
  • Department of Conservation & Recreation
  • Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry

Media Contact for DCR Foresters Identify Beech Leaf Disease in the Commonwealth

Olivia Dorrance, Press Secretary

Beech leaf disease

BOSTONThe Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) today announced that agency foresters have positively identified Beech Leaf Disease (BLD) symptomatic trees within Massachusetts in the communities of Plymouth, Worcester and Blandford. Infected trees include both American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) and European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees. This is the first time the tree disease, which affects beech tree varieties, has been identified in the state, and members of the public are asked to monitor beech trees on their property and report potentially infected trees to DCR for analyses.

“Urban tree canopies and forests are invaluable resources that provide clean air and water, help mitigate risks associated with climate change, reduce household energy consumption, and provide critical habitats for a wide variety of species that depend on healthy trees to survive,” said Peter Church, DCR Director of Forest Stewardship. “Beach Leaf Disease presents a new threat to the Commonwealth’s beech tree population, and it is important that property owners continue to look for signs of distress in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading.”

BLD is associated with a foliar nematode (microscopic worm) called Litylenchus crenatae; however, at this time, it is unknown exactly how the disease spreads from tree to tree. Once BLD infects a beech tree, the tree’s health deteriorates, potentially exposing it to additional stresses, such as other diseases or insect pests. Symptoms of BLD include:

  • Dark bands form between the veins of leaves;
  • Leaves become curled, deformed, and shriveled; and,
  • Trees develop a thin canopy. 

A treatment for the disease is not available at this time. If property owners and community members suspect a tree has BLD, please contact DCR’s Forest Health Program at (857) 337-5173 or email at Nicole.Keleher@mass.gov. Below are sample photos of beech trees with BLD.

beech disease

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Media Contact for DCR Foresters Identify Beech Leaf Disease in the Commonwealth

Department of Conservation & Recreation 

DCR manages state parks and oversees more than 450,000 acres throughout Massachusetts. It protects, promotes, and enhances the state’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry 

The Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry offers programs to promote, protect and enhance healthy and diverse wooded and urban forests throughout our Commonwealth including grant opportunities for urban forestry and volunteer fire assistance, staff assistance to municipalities for fire control, consulting forestry and forest stewardship for private lands, oversight of forest health issues including insect and disease control and storm related response, regulatory guidance on timber harvests as well as forest management and timber sales on state lands.
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