Tree Leaves Dying

Asked June 18, 2018, 12:09 PM EDT

I have what I believe is an ornamental plum tree. It produces small berries in the late spring. Last year the leaves began dying off and the tree was bare in the middle of Sept. This year the leaves began dying 2-3 weeks ago, and progressing rapidly. Can you please help to identify the disease or pest that is causing this issue? If you are able, how should I treat it? Or should I just remove the tree? Thank you! (In 2015-2016 it had bagworms at the end of summer, if that makes a difference.)

Baltimore County Maryland

3 Responses

Are you certain this is an ornamental plum? They usually have burgundy or "purple" leaves- or maybe they were when healthy? What did the fruit look like?

Ornamental fruit trees can have many problems and are not very long lived. Leaf spot diseases can be particularly troublesome in wet years like this one. There is nothing we recommend in terms of treatment of leaf diseases. Fungicides are not curative. Stressed trees will drop leaves early in difficult years. New leaves may be produced if the tree is healthy enough.
Please take a look at this helpful publication that covers many of the problems and management of Ornamental Fruit Trees:


Thank you for your prompt reply. The flowers in the spring look the same as the images I have seen on the internet, which leads me to believe it is an ornamental plum. The fruit is a bit larger than a blueberry. The leaves were burgundy after the flowers fell, and there are still some leaves that are purple. I'm not sure if this makes a difference in your diagnosis. I disposed of as many dead leaves as I could last year, in case that would help.

Thank you for your time and expertise.

We were just wondering if it might be a Serviceberry (Amelanchier). (see:
But if the leaves grow in purple, we agree with the plum i.d.
Getting rid of the fallen leaves is good in that it removes some of the pathogen load so that there is less infection possiblility in the future.