Fire Blight is a bacterial disease that affects many commonly used trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs that are susceptible to Fire Blight include Pear, Crabapple and Hawthorn trees, plus Roses, Spirea and Cotoneaster shrubs. Symptoms appear in early spring, just after flowers have opened. Blossoms wilt and turn brown shortly after opening. Fire Blight may spread to branches causing cankers which ooze a milky or clear substance. New leaf growth that is infected with Fire Blight will wilt and turn black or brown, looking scorched or burned, hence the disease name. If left untreated, Fire Blight will continue to spread throughout the tree, infecting twigs, branches and the trunk. Warm, wet spring weather favors bacteria growth and speeds the infection.
Fire Blight is avoided in a number of ways. To begin with, plant disease resistant tree and shrub cultivars when selecting potentially susceptible varieties for the landscape. Also, maintain good plant health by properly watering and fertilizing the landscape. If a tree or shrub does become infected with Fire Blight it is essential that diseased branches are quickly removed. Fire Blight spreads rapidly through a tree. Pruning should be done well below the infected areas and during dry weather. Sterilize the pruning tools between each cut to prevent spreading the disease.
Suspect Fire Blight? Call the PHC Department for more information and to have a Certified Arborist properly evaluate and diagnose the tree or shrub.