Tattered Leaves

Oak leaf samples have been arriving in the Plant Disease Clinic showing symptoms of tatters. Tatters on hackberry has also been observed. Counties reporting tatters include Allamakee, Benton, Dubuque, Grundy, Johnson, Muscatine, and Poweshiek.

Damage from tatters appears at the time of leaf emergence. Affected leaves have reduced interveinal tissue, giving them a lacy or tattered appearance.

Smooth Patch on Bark

Have you ever noticed a smooth, light patch on the bark of a tree? Certain saprophytic fungi (those that live on dead organic matter) decompose the rough, dead outer bark of trees. This results in smooth grayish patches that are adjacent to the normal, rough bark. Small patches may expand slowly over time, coalescing to form smooth grayish areas that are several feet in length. Aleurodiscus oakesii is one of the fungal species that can cause smooth patch and may occur on trees such as American elm, sugar maple, and various oaks.

Pinpointing the Problem with Pin Oak

Here's a commonly heard problem on the ISU Hortline: "I have a beautiful pin oak in the front yard--it's been there for almost 25 years. And now it's starting to die off and the leaves look terrible. What can I do?"

On most Iowa soils, probably the best course of action would have been to never have planted pin oak in the first place. While this homeowner thought they were planting for posterity, what they really planted was a problem tree that will cost them significant headaches for the life of the tree.

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