Beech Bark Anomaly

Nish

Well-Known Member
I took these photos of a client's beech tree (presumably Fagus grandifolia) in central NC (Hillsborough) today. The lower trunk had had a lot of ivy growing on it recently. I am not familiar with Beech Bark Disease and I don't know that I've seen other beeches with this kind of problem. Anyone know what's going on with this tree, or have an informed prognosis for a mature beech with these symptoms?

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Serf Life

Active Member
Doesn't look quite right for beech bark disease, the [neo]nectria cankers are usually more individual hummock looking, like it had been shotgunned and healed a jagged ridge around the pellet hole. Last I knew the insects weren't in your area yet? You can see the insects inside the cankers as white fluffs normally without a hand lense. Around here it is about 1 resistant beech per acre, hope you folks don't get it. Perhaps similar/same fungus invading through different vector?
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Absent fruiting bodies, it is not unrealistic that the bark just formed that way. There is genetic variation even among smooth and gray... i don't know that I've seen one that broken up, but there are beech that don't have smooth bark.
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
Thank you, all, for the quick feedback. I appreciate Serf Life's comment, as I don't think scale beech bark disease is in our area (though it apparently is in the mountains of western NC) and it didn't seem like a clear match to Google images I've seen. I certainly didn't see any white fluffy scale insects nor fruiting bodies, but I'm not certain I'd recognize the fungi in an inactive state. If its a similar fungus invading through a different vector, maybe it would explain the different pattern. Helpful thought, ATH, about possible mutation/genetic explanation, as I had just assumed that it was some sort of pathogen.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
How does the crown look overall, sucker growth? Excessive deadwood? Tree looks like it's been responding to chronic stress over a long period of time.
-AJ
 

Nish

Well-Known Member
How does the crown look overall, sucker growth? Excessive deadwood? Tree looks like it's been responding to chronic stress over a long period of time.
-AJ
Yes, I would say that seems right--over all it looks like a tree that has been responding to chronic stress over a long period of time. it has poor structure (many codominant leads), but with few dead tips and only one large (very decayed) dead lead. Abstracting from the bark, it's not clearly healthy, but its also not clearly on its way out.

I'll be looking for an opportunity to revisit the tree, with more questions in my mind.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Yes, I would say that seems right--over all it looks like a tree that has been responding to chronic stress over a long period of time. it has poor structure (many codominant leads), but with few dead tips and only one large (very decayed) dead lead. Abstracting from the bark, it's not clearly healthy, but its also not clearly on its way out.

I'll be looking for an opportunity to revisit the tree, with more questions in my mind.
These kinds of edge cases are so interesting. It's easy to condemn the tree and then again it can potentially be nursed along for many more years, with hazard reduction strategies as needed. I think you know that already ;-) So many of my customers think I will "improve the health of my tree". In some cases possibly so. Most of the time I tell them something like "this tree is in a stage of life where it is in a slow decline. I can't save it but I can improve conditions for the tree and reduce hazards". People would much rather believe I can magically save their tree.
-AJ
 
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