• What’s attacking the beech trees?

    Question

    We were walking the trail in West Woods and noticed the beech trees look infested. Looked like a good portion of the leaves were wilted. What is attacking them?

    Naturalist's Response

    What you are seeing is beech leaf disease.

    It was first discovered affecting American beech trees in Lake County in 2012. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, it is now found in at least a dozen counties in northeast Ohio as well as Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada. It effects American beech, European beech and oriental beech.

    This disease causes significant die-off of trees. Young seedling and sapling trees in the understory are the first the be affected. These young trees usually will die within two to five years. Larger trees when infected will live a little longer, but they, too, will die from this disease.

    There seems to be a connection between a microscopic size nematode, which is a round worm, and beech leaf disease. Research on the cause and management is ongoing by many different organizations throughout the US and Canada.

    Sadly right now there is no know effective method to prevent or treat this plant disease.

    Thank you for your question.

    -Naturalist Denise Wolfe