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History of Sycamore Anthracnose Treatment

In the past, the only real option open to arborists for the treatment of Sycamore Anthracnose was to spray various fungicides on the leaves and twigs to try and control the disease. Timing was critical, and repeated sprays were needed to have any effect at all. The potential pesticide exposure to the applicator that was spraying was huge, and the drift from spraying large sycamores could go way off target and contaminate other areas of the customer’s property, or even the neighbor’s property. Spraying was just not an effective method of sycamore anthracnose control.

Aside from spraying, injection methods in the past also had spotty results. Drilling is never a good method to deliver product into your trees. With drilling, the tree immediately isolates and compartmentalizes the area that is damaged by the drill bit. This reduces the area available for the tree to store sugar for later use. There are many research studies that have been published on the study of drilling damage. For over 30 years, the ‘guru’ of modern arboriculture, the late Dr. Alex Shigo, studied how trees react to damage in the xylem. His opinion on this subject was very simple, “Drilling trees makes no sense!”

Modern-Day Sycamore Anthracnose Treatment

Sycamore is a thin-barked species of tree. As such, it is difficult to get enough product into a sycamore by injecting under the bark. In the past, this had left arborists scratching their heads searching for other options for treatment that did not involve drilling.

Drilling was the only injection method that existed up until Chip Doolittle, the owner of ArborSystems, Inc., invented the Portle needle tip for use in the Direct-Inject tree injection system. This needle tip, designed originally for conifers and palms, allows arborists to deal with other tree species in unique situations like sycamores with sycamore anthracnose. Arborists can now inject multiple milliliters of product directly into a tree where it is needed. Injections can be done quickly, accurately, and with little damage to the tree because we are not drilling.

How Sycamore Anthracnose Treatments Are Performed

When it comes time for treatment, there are a few steps to perform an injection. First, the Portle needles are tapped into place with a setting tool. The red weight slides on the metal shaft and assists in tapping the needles into the tree. This prepares the sycamore tree to accept trunk injections with multiple milliliters of product at each injection site. The needles are spaced at a distance of 4-5 inches apart all the way around the tree.

Once the needles are set, the Direct-Inject tool is attached by the quick-connect fitting on the end of each needle, and the product is administered quickly and effortlessly. No pumps, air pressure, hoses, or any other equipment is needed. An arborist can work on more than one tree at a time if they are close by. Once the product has been injected into the tree, the needles are tapped back out with the setting tool just a few minutes later.

Contact me if you would like a Board Certified Master Arborist, like myself, to treat your sycamore trees for anthracnose. Don’t trust your trees to just anyone! Be sure to deal with the best and most qualified arborist for this treatment.

Remember Sycamore Anthracnose is treatable!

By wayne / Anthracnose / 0 Comments

This sycamore tree is being injected with fungicide for the treatment of Sycamore Anthracnose. There are 92 sycamore trees on this site, all infected to some degree with this chronic disease.

In addition, the trees are being soil treated with a special mix of fertilizer and organic products to increase their health.

Here, the ArborSystems Portle needles are being used to inject multiple milliliters of fungicide into the sycamore tree to cure it of Anthracnose. The needles are placed at approximately 4-5 inch increments around the entire tree.

If you suspect that your sycamore tree may be at risk, contact us to speak to a Board Certified Master Arborist. Email us at or call our office at 630-480-4090

By wayne / Anthracnose / 0 Comments


Sycamore Anthracnose is a tree disease that is caused by the fungus Apiognomonia veneta. This disease affects sycamore trees, but there are some varieties that are resistant (namely the London planetree). While rarely fatal, the disease negatively affects the look of the tree and, with repeated years of infection, can affect its overall health.


The most common signs of Sycamore Anthracnose are (1) heavy leaf and twig drop in late spring, (2) a thinning crown, (3) distorted limb growth, and (4) “witches’ broom” growth. Cool, wet, spring weather will aggravate the spread of this disease.


To stop this vicious cycle and to nurse the tree back to health, a two-fold approach is recommended. On one hand, the tree is injected with a fungicide that moves up into the small one- and two-year-old branches where the disease overwinters. In addition to the injection, a soil treatment is recommended with a mixture of fertilizer, bio-root stimulants, phosphite, and a systemic biological fungicide.


Large amounts of bark falling off of a sycamore tree is not a sign of Sycamore Anthracnose. Sycamore trees lose their bark (it’s called exfoliating) as a part of their normal growth process. While the exfoliation does appear to be worse in certain years than others, and although there has been very little agreement over the years as to what causes it, there is a definite agreement that Sycamore Anthracnose is not the cause.

By wayne / Anthracnose / 0 Comments

There are several signs of Sycamore Anthracnose. Twig and leaf drop in the late spring, thinning crowns, distorted limb growth, and / or “witches’ broom” growth are the most common characteristics of this disease. 

A close-up of this sycamore tree shows the “witches’ broom” growth characteristics that are associated with Anthracnose. This is caused by the repeated death of small, new branches as they get infected each spring and die. A new sprout grows out from a location and dies, which leads to a new sprout growing out of the same location and also dying. This occurrence repeats several times, and causes the dead shoots to look like a broom.


Here is “witches’ broom” that is very simple to spot. The advanced distorted growth is caused by the Anthracnose disease. Leaves and twigs frequently fall during the late spring, and occasionally all season, but then the tree re-leafs. The overall health of the tree suffers from this, and if repeated year after year, could subject the tree to severe decline.

It is important to note that a sycamore tree throwing bark is NOT a symptom of Sycamore Anthracnose. This is called exfoliation and is a natural part of a sycamore tree's growth. 
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your landscape, be sure to call us at 630-480-4090 to speak to a Board Certified Master Arborist. We can also be reached via email at

By wayne / Anthracnose / 0 Comments

I have a number of pictures taken in the Fall of 2010 in Detroit, MI on a site with 92 mature sycamore trees. Most of these trees are between 20″ and 35″ in diameter. Anthracnose has obviously been on this site, affecting these trees for many years. Some of the trees are declining to the point where the Cooperative that owns them was nearly ready to consider their removal. After contacting me and learning more about what I can do to save these trees, they have decided to start a gradual multi-year program to rid these trees of the disease. At the same time, we will be working on improving their overall health.

To start with, let’s show a picture of a sycamore tree on an adjacent site in Detroit that looks unaffected at this point from Anthracnose.


The sycamore tree on the left appears to be relatively unaffected by the Anthracnose disease, even though other trees in the area have been struggling for years. This is quite commonly found and can be explained with the thought: not everyone exposed to a cold virus catches a cold, while some people that catch a cold get much sicker than others. Once we get our sycamore trees back to good health, it is important to keep them adequately watered and fertilized over the course of a growing season. Just as all of us should get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and eat properly to maintain our health. Sycamore trees that are stressed are more susceptible to catching Anthracnose and other pathogens.
Now in this next picture, we start seeing the tell-tale signs of chronic Anthracnose. You won’t see the real problem until you click on this picture and look at the close-up. There, you will see that this tree is not at all as healthy as it appears at first glance. There are a lot of little groups of small branches that the leaves have fallen off of, and the tree is much thinner than the original, healthy sycamore tree. The disease starts as a brown lesion on the veins of the leaves, spreading and crinkling the leaf up, eventually causing it to fall off the tree.
In addition, many smaller twigs, visible here, are dying. Sometimes in the spring, you can get a sudden leaf and twig drop, causing most people to be concerned. But in a short time, the tree starts re-leafing and can look quite normal by June or mid-July. However, then the defoliation re-occurs, sometimes in the same season or sometimes in the following season. This repeated defoliation and re-leafing stresses the tree significantly by lowering stored sugar reserves, subjecting the tree to other damaging problems.
What becomes visible on the tree after these repeated cycles is a growth deformity we refer to as “witches’ broom.” The repeated defoliation and re-leafing keeps happening from the same location, giving the appearance of a broom in various little clumps all over the tree. The overall health of the tree is declining and this new deformed growth is unattractive.
While the tree may survive for a few years with this reoccurring problem, this next picture shows what starts to happen to our sycamore trees. The “witches’ broom” look get very pronounced. This deformed growth starts looking terrible and the leaf and twig drop gets even worse. Then what happens is the discussion about removing these trees, as most people do not realize this problem is controllable and reversible. You need to have a two pronged approach to solving this problem. 1) Treat the disease; and 2) increase the overall health of the tree by encouraging the tree to replenish its long-depleted sugar reserves. This usually takes two years.

If you are having problems with your sycamore trees and the Anthracnose disease, contact me!  Wouldn’t you love to have your old tree back and stop the massive clean-up in your yard each year? You need a Board Certified Master Arborist that knows how to deal with your tree problems. If you would like more information you can go to the Sycamore Anthracnose section of this website, or you can send us an email at or call us at 630-480-4090.