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Verticillium Wilt of Woody Ornamental's

Most deciduous trees and many shrubs are susceptible to a disease called Verticillium wilt. Conifers do not appear to be susceptible.

 

Maple Tree Wilting
Wilting Maple Tree

Symptoms


Early indications that a tree has Verticillium wilt include heavy seed production, leaves that are smaller than normal, and the browning of the margins of leaves. Usually, foliage on one side of the tree wilts. The wood under the bark of wilting branches is discolored in streaks. The discoloration is green to black in Maples, brown in Elms, and brown to black in Black Locust and other trees. The smallest branches may not exhibit the discoloration.


Wilting Catalpa
Wilting Catalpa


Life History

The fungus is dormant when free in the soil. It enters wounds in the roots and remains primarily in the current year's growth. The fungus plugs the water vessels which then restrict the flow to branches and leaves. While large trees may survive for years with minor symptoms, it is not unusual for an infected tree to be killed within 2 - 3 years.




Management

  • Do not replant susceptible species where a variety was killed by Verticillium. When a tree exhibits mild symptoms, prune out affected limbs and water and fertilize to maintain tree vigor.
  • An infested soil area can be sterilized with Vapam to greatly reduce the amount of Verticillium in the soil.
  • Never use wood chips taken from a Verticillium - infected tree as mulch or as a potting medium, even after composting because of the possible survival of the fungus in the chips.

 

Discoloration of Vascular Tissue
Discoloration of Vascular Tissue
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