BOLTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A disease threatening one of the Adriondack Park’s most commonly-sighted trees has reared its head. Last week, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) reported a confirmed case of beech leaf disease in the area of Edgecomb Pond. It’s the first case of the disease in Warren County.

Beech Leaf Disease was first discovered in the U.S. in 2012, when an outbreak was found in Lake County, Ohio. The disease is thought to be connected to a nematode worm that enters trees through stomate cells on leaves, which emit gas. Due to the recency of the disease, it’s not yet fully known if the worms themselves are fully responsible for what the tree goes through next – which includes dark leaf striping, leathery texture, and death within a few years of infection.

“The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s forest pest research assistant will be doing
additional surveys in the area to help us better determine the extent of the infestation,” said
APIPP Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Coordinator Becca Bernacki in a release. “The most important thing we can do at this point is to gather as much data as possible.”

Beech Leaf Disease was first found in the Adirondacks in 2022, when a case emerged in Herkimer County. More cases have been seen around Westchester County, as well as Rochester, Syracuse, and parts of Massachusetts. Adult beech trees afflicted with the disease can die around 6 years after infection.

Identifying the disease on your property is a good place to start. Joe Oszust of the Albany office of Davey Tree says that leaves may even appear translucent as the nematode-created dark bands grow.

From there, no cure exists, but groups like Davey are doing what they can to keep the disease in check. The company is currently running a pilot program for anyone who believes they may have trees infected by the disease on their property. The program involves the use of polyphosphates, intended to wake up the tree’s natural defenses against disease. Polyphosphates are used to enhance crop yield in agriculture, and as additives in certain foods.

“It would be a shame to have beech tree disease take hold up here,” said Oszust. “The European beech is planted as an ornamental tree, and many are very historic, especially in older cemeteries. It would be very unfortunate to see those go away.”

American beech trees are one of the two most common trees in the Adirondacks, alongside sugar maples. Beech nuts are a major food source for birds, bears, and many other forms of wildlife that call the park home.

On Wednesday, APIPP held a free webinar on the disease, with the intention of spreading education. APIPP works with volunteer pest hunters, who report where diseases like beech leaf disease have been found.