Nematodes threaten Ontario’s beech trees

by Editorial Staff | April 29, 2020
healthy beech tree

Nematodes are spreading beech leaf disease throughout Ontario, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) announced in a recent Facebook post.

Nematodes are parasitic roundworms or threadworms. They grow in the buds, leaves, and leaf litter of the trees, and eventually prevent the trees from photosynthesizing.

Nematodes may be present before the leaves are symptomatic. This makes the infection more difficult to identify, and easier to spread, the ministry stated.

Beech disease and effects

Beech leaf disease was first found in the northeastern United States in 2012. The infection is also identified in seven counties near Lake Erie. These areas include Lambton, Chatham-Kent, Middlesex, Elgin, Oxford, Norfolk, and Niagara, the ministry stated.

Though unclear how beech leaf disease affects larger trees, smaller trees could be dead within five years of infection. The more immediate threat is the enriching beech nuts lost to local wildlife.

The post further urged people to prevent further spread by not moving firewood or seedlings. Also, to resist disposing of yard waste in nearby forests.

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