It’s spring again and the flowers are blooming. Yet one important harbinger of spring is increasingly lacking from our Virginia woodlands — the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This beautiful aboriginal trees are succumbing to the dogwood anthracnose fungus (Discula destructiva), a non-native fungus that has killed over 95 percent that the dogwoods in some areas.

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While the ns of the dogwood’s vulnerable spring blooms and deep purple fall foliage is upsetting, the ns of ecological function is reason for severe concern. Dogwoods are an essential food source for wildlife and a far-ranging component that the calcium cycle in eastern forests.

Dogwood seeds, fruit, flowers, twigs, bark, and leaves are supplied as food by miscellaneous animals. The USDA Forest service reports that at the very least 36 species of birds eat the dogwood’s high fat-content berries. They are additionally enjoyed by mammals from chipmunks to bear. Deer and rabbits browser on the twigs, leaves and bark. In the fall, the promptly decomposing leaves room food to countless detrivores (organisms that procedure decomposing organic matter) native bacteria to land snails.

In addition to gift a resource of food for countless animals, dogwoods additionally play a key role in the calcium cycle of the forest. Calcium is an important nutrient because that both plants and animals, and dogwood leaves are 2 come 3.5 percent calcium through weight. Dogwoods, unlike many other trees and also plants, have actually the capability to ‘mine’ calcium from soil and also rocks. The trees concentration the mineral in their leaves and also wood; when the leaves autumn in autumn, that calcium becomes available to the remainder of the plants and animals in the forest.

The relationship in between dogwood trees, floor snails and also perching bird populations offers just one example of the dogwood’s invaluable role in the forest nutrient cycle, and also the larger woodland ecosystem. Floor snails, attracted by the calcium in the leaf litter, are an ext prevalent under dogwood trees 보다 under various other trees in the forest. Researchers studying forest dynamics have actually been maybe to attach decreases in the population of these land snails to similar decreases in perching bird populations. Together dogwoods have become fewer because of anthracnose, scientists believe that perching bird have begun suffering indigenous calcium deficiency, i m sorry is limiting their capability to produce eggshells. Thus, the ns of these beautiful trees have the right to have wide-ranging implications for our eastern forest ecosystems.

Dogwood anthracnose very first appeared in brand-new York and also Connecticut in 1978 and has since spread up and down the east coast. Anthracnose infection appears as splotches through tan centers and also purple edge on the upper leaf surface, with black clues on the underside. Infection generally proceeds indigenous the pipeline to the twigs and also branches, however can begin in new shoots. Infected branches have actually tan cankers with black spots. Hurt trees shed branches indigenous the bottom the the tree up. Sick tree may shot to compensate by creating sprouts along the trunk, which are conveniently infected and also introduce the fungus come the trunk.

The best way to safeguard your dogwoods from anthracnose is to save them healthy. In the wild, dryness stressed trees and those farming in moist, shady woods seem specifically at risk. During dry periods, water her trees at ground level v a soaker water tap (wetting the leaves and branches might encourage the fungus). Provide your dogwood a tiny sun and also a 2- to 3-inch mulch bed expanding at least to the drip heat of the tree. Easy fertilize as crucial with a low-nitrogen fertilizer to protect against rapid growth of vulnerable shoots. Eliminate water sprouts from the trunk, and monitor and prune out infected leaves and also branches. Finally, tree anthracnose resistant trees like the ‘Appalachian Spring’ cultivar occurred from survivors of one anthracnose outbreak in Maryland.

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You have the right to also aid restore calcium come the forest. Instead of throwing the end your egg shells, sterilize castle by toasting in the oven or zapping in the microwave. Then crush castle up and also mix them through the particle in your bird feeder or scatter lock in your yard or garden. The snails, birds and squirrels will do the rest.

Photo peak left: chris Evans, flow to river CWMA, download from www.forestryimages.org.Photo right: R.L. Anderson, USDA forest Service, download from www.forestryimages.org