River Birch problem

Asked September 8, 2017, 11:36 AM EDT

I have a three trunk river birch. One trunk has developed a circle of bark about 12 inches high all around the trunk. The bark is broken out in pieces surrounding the trunk. I was hoping you could tell me what it is. Thank you. Ken Thiede. kenthiede1@comcast.net

Cook County Illinois trees and shrubs

1 Response

Dear Mr. Thiede,
It looks like your river birch is exhibiting the symptoms of being attacked by a canker. This is a fungal disease that can be caused by 3 or 4 different funguses, which one has infected your birch doesn't matter. What does is that you have a serious problem here. River birch like a moist soil and prefer an acid pH soil. Our alkaline soil (pH around 7) makes it difficult for plants to take up iron and manganese and binds other minerals as well. When we have dry periods this stresses the trees and shrubs (as well as non woody plants ). It is at these times they are more susceptible to disease infection. Canker is serious and can eventually kill the tree. I would recommend contacting an arborist and have him or her inspect your tree and see if it can be saved perhaps by removing the diseased stem. For woodies it is important to water during dry periods and fertilize to help withstand disease stress and climate stress. Acidifying the soil will help the plant take up the available iron or perhaps adding additional iron may be helpful to try and save the rest of your river birch. Good luck.