Thompson & Morgan

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Silver Leaf Fungus - Diseases


Commonly asked question(s):

- Why are the leaf tips on my cherry tree starting to go brown and dying? It was indoors for a month before moving it outside.
- Why is our Victoria Plum Tree dropping sprindley branches which have curled leaves since it was pruned in January?


Why are the leaf tips on my cherry tree starting to go brown and dying? It was indoors for a month before moving it outside.

If your cherry tree was originally indoors, it is important to remember to acclimatise it to outdoor temperatures before it is put in its final position outside. Soft new foliage can easily be damaged by the cold and wind. If this is the case, don’t worry too much. It may lose this first flush of leaves but will soon produce more.

If the shoots are also beginning to decline then you may have a more serious problem. Cherries are particularly prone to Silver Leaf which is caused by fungal spores entering wounds along the stems, such as those caused during pruning. The leaves take on a silvery appearance and may turn brown at the tips. This disease progresses when the branches begin to die back. The spores of Silver Leaf are most prevalent during autumn and winter so Cherries should never be pruned at this time. Prune your cherry during summer instead when the wounds will heal much quicker.



Why is our Victoria Plum Tree dropping sprindley branches which have curled leaves since it was pruned in January?

Plums (particularly Victoria) are highly susceptible to ‘Silver Leaf’ fungus which is particularly prevalent during mild, wet winters, and enters the plant through pruning wounds or abrasions. This is why plums and cherries should always be pruned in the summer during dry weather, and using tools that have been cleaned and sterilised before and after use.

Check your tree for the following symptoms. Silver leaf causes the leaves to initially gain a silvery hue before browning and dieing off. The shoots will also die back and mauve fungus bracts appear on any dead wood in the autumn. If you can cut off the dead branch that you mentioned and moisten the end of it you may find a dark brown or purple stain within the wood which is also an indicator of silver leaf.

If this is the cause then you will need to cut back any affected growth (in summer, during dry weather), preferably to around 15cm (6") beyond the infected wood. Burn the prunings. I would recommend that you also feed and water the tree to promote its recovery and provide a mulch of well rotted manure or garden compost in the autumn. Take care not to mound any mulch around the base of the stem. If you notice any fungal bracts on the main stem this autumn then it would be best to remove the tree entirely.