Still Green

Often by mid-August ( I realize it’s not “mid” yet, but, close enough), summer’s heat and dry is stressing my American SycamorePlatanus occidentalis.

It’s a tough tree and hard to kill, but it likes a river bottom situation with plenty of regular moisture.  In droughty times, the Sycamore will shed leaves as a survival mechanism, though mine has never gone completely nude.  But Sycamores are also subject to some disease problems which can hamper growth and beauty. 

The upper canopy of my Sycamore looks healthy to me–green and lush–though that might simply be a result of distance, rather than reality.

Two lower branches (which I plan to remove soon; then again, I’ve been saying that for a while) demonstrate foliage damaged by one of Sycamores’ various banes–anthracnose.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden website, Anthracnose is caused by a fungus, Apiognomonia veneta, and is common in urban Sycamore trees.  The brown spots show a tell-tale “V” shape and the fungus can eventually cause the whole leaf to brown and drop prematurely.

The article also mentions tiny black spots which are the “fruiting bodies” of the fungal spores and, sure enough, they’re visible on the undersides of some of the leaves.

My Sycamore shows some anthracnose damage almost every summer, but it’s usually worse in wet years, which 2016 certainly qualifies for.  Spring saw deep, soaking rains and that set up a situation for fungi to flourish.  Additionally, there have been some heavy rains this summer, no doubt continuing the stage for fungal spread.

What to do?  Well, I probably won’t do anything.  I’m certainly not going to spray with a fungicide, but as good garden sanitation practice, I should rake up the fallen leaves.

There aren’t many leaves dropped this summer,

… just enough that one or two hitch a ride on the the dog’s fluffy tail or for some to whoosh into the house when the back door is opened.  My Sycamore stands in a work/storage area, and I tend to procrastinate in regular tidying of this area.  Plus, as a wildlife gardener, I’m prone to leave limbs and leaves on the ground as cover for a variety of critters. I suppose a little compromise is in order: picking up potentially diseased foliage to protect the tree’s viability, while avoiding the sterility brought on by obsessive weeding, raking, and “cleaning” of garden areas.

During prolonged drought periods, I soak the soil around the tree once or twice a month, which prevents massive leaf drop, but with this year’s summer rains, that hasn’t been necessary.

I’ll keep a watch on the tree as August progresses into September, but unless I see significantly more damage, I won’t fret about this tree.

There seem to be plenty of other things to fret about!

Thanking Pat of The Squirrelbasket for graciously hosting this fun and interesting meme about trees. Check out her blog to learn about trees from all over the world.


20 thoughts on “Still Green

  1. I’m with you! I don’t fuss with plants all that much–if they can’t make it, they’re gone from my garden. Yes, our forecast is for triple digits for the foreseeable future. Ugh is right. The days are shortening though, so, it’ll cool off soon. I hope.


  2. Your strategy makes sense to me, too. Sycamores are amazing trees, and tough. It’s a balance, isn’t it? Not enough rain and the trees are stressed by drought; too much rain and fungal and other diseases can be a problem. Your tree will probably be very happy when your weather is pleasant this fall.


    • Yes, it is a balance. I’m not really concerned about the fungal fun–it happens, on some level, every summer. I like this tree though–so lush and green in the furnace blast time of year. I’m looking forward to cooler temps!


  3. Tina siento que su grande y precioso Sycamore tenga un hongo. Pero no me extraña con este calor y si ha llovido. Las plantas ya no pueden aguantar tanto calor. Menos mal que pronto llegará Septiembre y los días se acortan mucho y refresca. Su Sycamore aguantará aún muchos años tan precioso o más como sale en las preciosas fotos. Yo soy como Usted Tina, no me gusta quitar las hojas caídas. Saludos de Margarita.


  4. I have a similar problem with the Horse Chestnuts in my garden. At this time of the year the leaves look terrible because of leaf miners. They always recover in the spring though.


  5. Looking pretty good!
    I love that word anthracnose – I have seen the name before but wouldn’t have had any idea what it looked like until you showed us. And it’s great when your diagnosis predicts the fruiting bodies and then there they are. A bit of a “yes!” moment.
    Thanks for keeping on following – it’s all very interesting, and I suspect you may have some lovely autumn colour eventually?
    All the best 🙂


  6. Tina your sycamore looks lovely and lush despite the fungus, my poplars get a fungus on the leaves to varying degrees most years which make them shed infected leaves early but the trees are always fine, it doesn’t seem to harm them, I don’t clear the leaves anymore and it hasn’t made a difference, I’m sure your tree will continue looking great for many, many years, wish we up here could share your heat we are down to about 13C/55F, Frances


    • Thanks, Frances. It is a lush tree with those big leaves moving in the breeze. Like you, I don’t fuss too much about the disease issue–the tree seems to slough off the fungus and keep on growing. Goodness, it is cold there! Maybe we can work out an exchange.

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  7. Pingback: Tree following link box for August 2016 | The Squirrelbasket

  8. There was a time when I would have felt some panic that everything wasn’t Eden-perfect. These days I am much more inclined to let things run their course. When it comes to fungus we probably have and hope for a natural self correction. If the life cycle involves the ground it seems possible to me that the leaves that are way up high might be perfectly fine.


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