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Ash Rust Making Many Ash Trees Shed Their Leaves Early

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Leaves affected by ash rust in the spring. (Credit: Molly Daly)

Leaves affected by ash rust in the spring. (Credit: Molly Daly)

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By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Fall has come early for many homeowners with ash trees on their properties. First, the leaves sprouted orange dots. Now, many have shed most if not all of their leaves.

Longwood Gardens Integrated Pest Management Specialist Mike Levantry says although Emerald Ash Borer gets all the press, the culprit in this case is called Ash Rust.

“That’s a fungal disease that affects ash trees, causes blotchy orange pustules on the leaf surfaces, and can eventually lead to some leaf distortion, and early leaf drop.”

Leaves affected by ash rust in the fall. (Credit: Molly Daly)

Leaves affected by ash rust in the fall. (Credit: Molly Daly)

The spores overwinter in marsh grass, and need some help to spread.

“When we get warm wet springs, with breezes off of the ocean, it blows those spores inland, and they affect ash trees.

Levantry says although its effects are unsightly, Ash Rust won’t hurt your tree.

“In the overall health of the tree it’s very minor, and most established ash trees can shrug it right off.”

As for Emerald Ash borer — it’s been found on the Bucks/Montgomery county border. How can you tell if your tree is infested?

“The major symptom is tree die-back. So in the crown of the tree, the top of the tree, we start to see branches dying back and turning brown, on an individual basis. We have to be careful, because that’s a symptom, also, of drought stress. Luckily, we’ve had a very very wet year, so we can practically eliminate drought stress as a factor for die-back on ash trees. So what we’re telling people to be on the lookout for is that canopy die-back.”

If you have questions or concerns about the health of a tree, Levantry recommends you call a certified arborist.

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