June 7, 2021, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced an addition to the state's invasive species list. Beech leaf disease, leading to the decline and mortality of beech trees from Ohio to Southern New England, has arrived in Maine's forest.
The disease was confirmed in leaf samples from a forest in Lincolnville (Waldo County) by Dr. Robert Marra of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. The diseased trees were brought to the attention of the Maine Forest Service' (MFS) Pathologist by the landowners, who pay attention to changes in their frequent walks through their forest.
Symptoms of the disease have since been seen in towns from Belfast to Rockport and inland to Searsmont and Hope, according to MDACF, in a news release.
The MFS is asking for the public's help in identifying additional areas impacted by beech leaf disease. If you suspect you have found affected leaves submit photos using the MFS tree ailment form, email email@example.com, or call (207) 287-2431. Photos should include a clear shot of the underside of an affected leaf or leaves. However, please report concerns even if those photos cannot be provided.
Symptoms of beech leaf disease include:
Dark bands form between the veins of leaves.
Leaves become curled, deformed, and shriveled.
Trees develop a thin canopy.
Beech leaf disease was first reported in Ohio in 2012, and for many years it was known only in adjacent states and provinces. 2019 marked the first detections of the disease in eastern New York, and in 2020 a concerted survey and outreach effort uncovered the condition in southern New England and other areas. At this time, there are no proven methods for management.