Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash.

Tree-infecting fungus thriving from rainy spring in southern Ontario

Many months of cool, rainy weather in southern Ontario have created prime conditions for a tree infecting fungus to become widespread in the region.

Anthracnose fungus causes tree leaves to become distorted and curl up with brown or black blotches.

According to provincial forestry officials, it has been spotted across Ontario.

Stephen Rowley, an Ontario arborist told the London Free Press that about half of plane trees London, Ont., have been hit with the fungus.

“I’ve been fielding a lot of calls from concerned residents. A lot of people think (the trees) are dying,” he said.

The fungus has been known to infect maple, ash, beech and other trees.

Rowley added that it generally doesn’t kill trees as most are able to put out a new crop of leaves mid-way through the season if they have enough energy stored.

Jill-Anne Spence, the city’s urban forestry manager said fewer than 10,000 trees in London have been hit by the anthracnose fungus, but believes it hasn’t been any worst than previous years.

“It’s kind of the business we’re in,” she said. “Same with agriculture — we’re always managing pest and disease as part of our population.”

In a statement to the London Free Press, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said pruning infected trees could help reduce future infections.

Pruning equipment can be sanitized with rubbing alcohol to stop the fungus from spreading.

Raking and removing tree leaves in the fall can also prevent an outbreak, so that any spores from leaves on the ground aren’t carried by the wind and rain.