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Beech Leaf Disease

Beech Leaf Disease

Beech leaf disease (BLD) was first discovered in 2012 from northeastern Ohio (Ewing et al. 2019). In 2019, the disease was detected in southwestern Connecticut (Marra and Lamondia 2020) and several nearby counties in New York. As of 2023, BLD has become firmly established across Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. While the worst affected areas in Massachusetts are in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth and Bristol counties, BLD has been reported across the state. It is expected to continue its rapid spread throughout the northeast over the next several years. This is especially concerning in areas where the northern hardwood (beech-birch-maple) forest type dominates. Many northern hardwood forests in western Massachusetts are primarily composed of American beech (Fagus grandifolia). Prior to BLD, no foliar nematode was ever known to cause a disease of woody plants that results in mortality (Carta et al. 2020). While uncertainty lingered for many years as to the cause of BLD, research has clearly linked the presence of the nematode to symptom development in natural and inoculated beech (Carta et al. 2020). American, European (F. sylvatica), Japanese (F. crenata) and Oriental beech (F. orientalis) are known hosts.