diseased tree dropping leaves

Asked May 24, 2016, 11:47 AM EDT

Hello, I would be grateful if someone could tell me what is wrong with this tree, which I believe is a 40-foot sweet gum or sycamore? but seems to be losing its bark and is dropping its leaves now at the end of May. Please see attached photos of the tree and leaves.(Other trees on the property including a plum and cherry trees are oozing an amber colored substance from areas on bark that has split, but I do not see that on this tree in question). Thank you.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Sycamores can be susceptible to anthracnose, a fungal disease. The photo on the left shows the browning on the foliage which is indicative of the disease. The white fuzzy growth on the leaf underside is normal and the Bark exfoliation is normal on sycamore.

Anthracnose can be prevalent during cool wet springs followed by a few days of warm weather. You may notice browning along the leaf veins. Anthracnose can affect oak, sycamore, ash, maples, etc. No control is necessary. Rake all fallen leaves to prevent overwintering spores.
This does not kill the tree. However, it can be defoliated by mid summer. Fungicides are not practical for large trees. In general, sycamores may drop brown leaves throughout the season time. The good news is that Sycamores continue to put on new leaves as they have an indeterminate growth habit. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/shade-tree-anthracnose-trees
Plum and cherry - oozing liquid. May be several reasons for this such as bark cracks, insect feeding, mower injury, or disease. This is the tree's natural response to a source of stress. At this point, prune out any dead branches, rake fallen leaves to prevent any overwintering fungal spores, and water the tree during dry periods to maintain vigor. Make sure mulch is no thicker than two inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. See our publication on ornamental fruit trees http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG93_IPM_Series_Orna...