Beech Leaf Disease, Worms Cause Trees To Die Across Massachusetts

Photo: Kim Tunnicliffe / WBZ NewsRadio

STOUGHTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A certain kind of trees has been getting picked off across the Commonwealth, from a disease that was first detection in the state more than two years ago in Plymouth.

Beech Tree Disease is spreading across the nation, draining the life of trees through microscopic worms and nematode species, Litylenchus crenatae. WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe spoke with Todd Caswell of Natural Tree & Lawn Care in Stoughton, who said that the worms are not outside like a caterpillar feeding on a leave, but inside the leaf tissue, causing havoc for the plant.

"Loss of leaves, loss of vigor, they just continue to lose more and more leaves," Caswell said.

According to officials, the way to tell if a beech tree is infected is by looking for dark-colored stripes or curled ends to the leaves.

"The telltale sign is the banding of the leaves— they create a darkening of the leaf between the veins," Caswell said.

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According to the Massachusetts Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry, BLD can infect American beech, European beech, and Oriental beech trees in both urban and forested environments. As of July, BLD has been confirmed in 83 communities in Massachusetts.

Photo: Courtesy of the Massachusetts Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry

However, Caswell says there is a treatment available that seems promising in slowing down the progression of BLD.

"There has been other diseases of beech tree that we treat regularly with fungicide. That same treatment is also having an effect on the nematode," Caswell said.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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