Blog & News

American Beech and Beech Bark Disease (archive)

Published on Monday November 23, 2015
Authored by PEIISC

American Beech, Fagus grandifolia

Among deciduous trees there is nothing quite as majestic or as graceful as the beech. ~ Donald Wyman, Horticulturist

A native tree of PEI…

  • produces edible nuts
  • great for firewood
  • leaves can hang on the tree throughout the winter
  • the smooth bark makes for easier to ID.

Cool Fact… Beech drops, Epifagus (means “upon the beech”) virginiana, is a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of beech trees. Look for them on the forest floor in a stand of beech trees.

Sadly, beech trees are susceptible to the beech bark disease.

“This disease is caused by a combination of an introduced beech scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) from Europe, coupled with a nectria fungus. While the nectria fungus was likely native to North America, the introduced scale insect provides an opening to a new host tree for the fungus. The disease begins with many scales feeding on beech tree sap while they form a covering of white wooly wax over their body. Once the scales have opened wounds in the bark, the nectria fungus begins to colonize the bark, cambial layer, and sapwood of the tree. This stage of the disease produces cankers sometimes resulting in isolated tarry spots oozing from the bark and /or raised blisters and calluses on the outer bark covering much of the trunk. Beech bark disease results in severe die-back in mature Beech trees.”…/pathog…/beech-bark-disease/

Researchers at the Canadian Forest Service Atlantic Forestry Centre in Fredericton discovered that 3% of beech trees samples in the Maritimes are resistant to the disease. They have been successful in identifying 41 disease resistant genotypes in which 80% of the offspring produced appear to be disease resistant. An orchard of potentially resistant beech was established in the PEI National Park in 2010.

Attached images:

Beautiful photo of a, somewhat sad beech tree, at Strathgartney Provincial Park by Shannon Mader.
A relatively healthy beech tree in Victoria Park.
Beech bark disease
Advanced beech bark disease
Healthy beech tree