10 June 2008
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Richard's Garden

This is bad news. One of my plum trees has silver leaf.

This is a fungal infection and there is no cure. The fungus enters the tree through wounds, particularly during the winter. I have been careful with this tree, making sure that whenever I cut a branch I seal the cut with antiseptic paint. However, a few years back my neighbour cut many of the branches overhanging her property (which she is legally allowed to do) but did not use the same care I did. The following year one branch had silver leaf and I removed it, hoping that I had removed all the infection. Unfortunately, I had not removed it all, as it has clearly returned.

Part of the branch I removed today can be seen to the left. I cut the branch right back to the trunk. The fungus infection was apparent in the cut branch - the wood was darker on one half than the other. Unfortunately, this staining goes back to the trunk which means that the fungus is in the trunk too. At the same time I removed a branch that had completely died back. This branch still had leaves on it and there was no apparent sign of damage, it was, however, a side branch of the main branch that I had cut from the trunk. I assume that the silver leaf fungus had completely killed this branch.

I checked the rest of the tree and I can see silver leaf on other branches, not as apparent as the photo, but it is certainly in other branches. This means that the only solution is to remove the entire tree. I have other fruit trees and so I do not want a silver leaf infected tree nearby.

The photo shows the effect of silver leaf on leaves. Instead of being a fairly dark green, the leaves have a milky sheen to them. They look almost as if they are made from plastic. This is caused by the a toxin produced by the fungus that makes the leaf cell layers separate.

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(c) 2008 Richard Grimes