3 Common Tree Diseases in Australia

Posted on: 19 May 2016

Tree disease can lead to deterioration, disfiguration and death, something that could have a huge impact on your landscape. Calling in a tree specialist is often the only solution. A professional can optimise the health of your landscape and remove infected trees to stop the disease from spreading. Here are three common diseases that affect trees in Australia and the symptoms to watch out for.   

1. Pink disease

Stem canker — a disease characterised by fungus on tree stems and twigs — can be caused by Erythricium salmonicolor, an organism that produces a tree condition called pink disease. Common symptoms to look out for include swelling or sunken spots on the main stem and branches, as well as split or cracked bark. Pink disease can affect woody crops like teak and African mahogany and, in some cases, cause tree death when fungus kills the cambial layer, which is located underneath the bark. If the condition is severe, a tree with pink disease might need to be removed. 

2. Peacock spot

Known for producing faint, circular lesions on tree leaves, peacock spot is a fungal disease that affects olive trees and other species. This disease causes leaves to fall from a tree, sometimes resulting in complete defoliation. When fungus attacks the tree, lesions become dark and produce a yellow halo. The disease is also known as bird's-eye spot and olive leaf spot and survives on infected leaves during the winter months. If your olive trees show peacock spot symptoms, it is important to contact a specialist, who will be able to use a preventative treatment annually. Tree experts recommend that chemical treatments are not applied to olive trees when they are flowering as chemicals can disrupt the fertilisation process and cause flowers and fruits to shed. 

3. Myrtle rust  

Myrtle rust is classified as a serious fungus disease which can affect plants like the willow myrtle tree, also known as the Western Australian peppermint tree. Myrtle rust can't be destroyed and, because it creates an abundance of spores that are spread by the wind, animals and humans, it can quickly affect other plants. Symptoms include small raised spots and pustules in leaves, fruits and flowers; after a few days, these pustules turn into yellow spores. If untreated, myrtle rust can destroy leaves, stunt tree growth, defoliate branches and even kill trees. If your trees show symptoms of myrtle rust, the Queensland government recommends you contact Biosecurity Queensland, part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, by phone or make a report online

For assistance, talk to a professional like Heritage Tree Care.


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If you want beautiful and healthy trees, you need to know how to take care of them. Hi, my name is Paige, and I have loved nurturing plants for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I had a miniature tree in my bedroom, and I took such good care of it to ensure I'd get mini lemons each year. Now, I live on a relatively large property and have a wide range of trees. I love taking care of them, and I want to share tips related to that with others. Whether you are a gardening expert or just a beginner, I hope that my posts can help you. Thanks for reading!

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