Insufficient moisture in the soil, compromised roots, and bacterial or fungal infections can all lead to leaf scorch. Leaf scorch, also known as marginal leaf burn, develops when sufficient water does not reach a tree’s leaf margin cells.
Xylella fastidiosa is one type of bacteria known to invade the xylem, or water-conducing vessels, and cause bacterial leaf scorch on oak, elm, sycamore, mulberry, red maple, and sweetgum trees. Leaf scorch causes leaves to present with discoloration and eventually leads to defoliation.
While the overall symptoms of leaf scorch remain similar among different tree varieties, some variations are noticeable. For example, in red maples, symptoms of leaf scorch go unnoticed in the early season. However, in mid-to-late July, leaf discoloration begins and by late August, premature defoliation can occur. On the other hand, in elm trees, leaf scorch is first symptomatic on leaves at the base of the tree and then moves upward through the canopy. Elm trees infected with leaf scorch become vulnerable to the elm bark beetle, the vector for the deadly Dutch Elm Disease.
Bacterial leaf scorch is spread through nymph and adult spittlebugs, treehoppers, and leafhoppers that transmit and carry the bacteria from plant to plant. After the infection is transmitted, tree decline progresses over several years before becoming fatal. Call or text Eric to discuss available treatment options to prolong the life of your infected tree.