Is there guidance on properly disposing of tree with Bacterial Leaf Scorch?

Asked September 12, 2019, 11:26 AM EDT

Is there guidance on disposing of tree with Bacterial Leaf Scorch Xyella Fastidiosa to prevent contamination of other plants or insects? If an infected tree is mulched will Xyella die or multiply in the mulch or ground? Is there a best time of year or season to remove an infected tree? Does a saw need to be disinfected to prevent spread to other trees? If disinfection is needed what procedure is effective? Attached are recent pics of a Red Oak and a Japanese Maple that I suspect are infected. Also:.. if I check the "Make it Public" box.. will my email or other identifying information be used or displayed? Re Make it Public.. I don't see other Ask an Expert questions or answers.. where can I find these on the Extension webpages? And.. when I used the Search box I got no results found for terms Bacterial Leaf Scorch, or Xyella.. Why? Thank you, Jay

Montgomery County Maryland red oak bacterial leaf scorch japanese maple tree

5 Responses

Take a look at our website on bacterial leaf scorch. The bacterium is spread by insects such as planthoppers, treehoppers, and spittlebugs that feed on infected plants and after feeding, the bacterium will spread systemically through the vascular system. This bacterium will not multiply in the mulch or ground and you do not have to disinfect your tools. There is no specific time to remove a dead tree. If the dead tree is a potential hazard, then you should remove sooner than later.

The photo of the red oak shows symptoms that may be consistent with bacterial leaf scorch. However, we encourage you to test for the disease. Many of the major tree care companies can test for this and they may have their own labs. Otherwise, you could have a certified arborist submit a sample from the tree to the University of Maryland Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. In the lab, a test can be done to confirm the presence of the bacterial pathogen.
Here is more information on a certified arborist

Trees can limp along for about 5-10 years. There is no cure for it. Here is our website and video

Your personal information will not be displayed on the public site. Go to the Home & Garden Information Home Page. See Ask An Expert and to the right you will see 'Get Answers' - 'Ask An Expert' - 'See Recent Answers'

The photo of the Japanese maple shows an old leaf spot and no control is necessary. This is not bacterial leaf scorch. Japanese maples grow best in morning sun and afternoon shade in a moist well drained soil. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the trunk. Water the tree during dry periods. Here is more information on Japanese maples and how to grow and care for them in the landscape


Hi Marian,
Thanks for the reply!

The UMd Plant Diagnostic Laboratory serves AG & Commercial, and directs homeowners to go the Home & Garden for more information.

All results for testing on Home & Garden that I found refer owners to commercial labs.
Do you know of any testing they provide to individuals?

For Xyella testing, Agdia Testing Services charges $87 for the first sample group (tree or trees), and $23 for each additional group (a test group can include up to ten individual samples ie leaves).

As to my original questions.. is there guidance for properly disposing of an infected tree, and if mulched will the bacteria then live in the mulch or soil to contaminate other plants?

I've read the recommended disposal for Black Limb is to burn all infected wood.

Here is another picture of the Japanese Maple.. it's appearance is similar to the Red Oak with about 1/2 or 3/4 quarter of the tree affected.

Thank you,

Hi - Individuals can have the testing done by a certified arborist (many of the major companies have their own lab) or you can have a landscaper or arborist submit a sample to the University of Maryland Plant Diagnostic Lab.

There is no specific guidance for disposal of trees with bacterial leaf scorch.

The bacterium will not multiply in the mulch or in the soil.

The photo of the Japanese maple shows an old leaf spot and no control is necessary. This is not bacterial leaf scorch.


Hello Christa.. regarding your answer for the Maple.. did you see the three additional pictures I provided?
The old leaf spot comment seems relevant to the first picture sent.
And thank you for responding.

We (including our plant pathologist) have viewed your photos.
Bacterial or fungal leafspots are common in our climate and vary from year to year in accordance with our weather and the conditions in your landscape and the plant itself related to airflow and watering practices that allow water to sit on the leaves.

There are multiple other issues that could be causing your maple to decline, including abiotic/environmental/cultural problems. You can explore those issues here:
and be sure to read the blog post shared above.

If the tree is important to you, consider having a consultation with an arborist.
Here too is a page that helps people decide when it may be time to remove a tree.