Dutch Elm Disease In Trees: Signs And Solutions

The US Forest Service calls Dutch elm disease one of the most destructive of all disease affecting shade trees in North America. While American elm trees are strikingly beautiful when healthy, they can become a mere shadow of their once-proud selves when infected with Dutch elm disease. The best cure for Dutch elm disease is immediate action. Watch your American elm trees closely for the signs described in this article, and if you notice them call a professional tree service immediately (such as Smitty's Tree Service Inc or another company). Read on to learn more about the signs of, and the solutions for, Dutch elm disease in American elm trees today.

Signs of Dutch Elm Disease

While it takes a professional tree services company to definitively diagnose Dutch elm disease, you may be able to spot some of the more obvious signs yourself. The main signs of Dutch elm disease may include:

  • Drooping tree branches: Initially, this may appear to be slight wilting, but it will increase over time. It may begin with only one branch, but the drooping will usually spread quickly to the other branches nearby.
  • Altered leaf colors: The leaves should normally be a vibrant green in a healthy American elm. Once infected with Dutch elm disease, the leaves will start to look dull, and may begin to turn yellow. Eventually, they may turn brown.
  • Curled leaves: American elm leaves are normally flat, but once infected with Dutch elm disease the leaves may start to curl.
  • Wood color changes: If your trees are suffering from an advanced case of Dutch elm disease, the wood of the tree may turn brown beneath the bark.

The Causes of Dutch Elm Disease

A highly destructive fungus carried by the European elm bark beetle is the cause of Dutch elm disease. After the beetles take up residence in a tree, the fungus gradually spreads through the wood until it reaches the center of the tree. There, it destroys the tree's circulatory system. The fungus works from the outside in, so you may see infected elms that look quite healthy towards the tree trunk while being obviously ravaged by disease in the outer branches.

Stopping Dutch Elm Disease

The only way you can stop Dutch elm disease is by catching it early. Call your local tree services specialists as soon as you suspect your trees are infected. If you wait too long, your trees will almost certainly be destroyed. However, with expert removal of all infected branches and wood, your trees can often be saved.