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Identify and Manage Cytospora Cankers

Tree Growth on Your Property: the Good Reasons Why it's a Do

When you see spruce trees for sale be sure to check for cankers before purchasing or planting in your yard. Cankers are a form of damage that affects a tree’s outer bark. They take the form of dead spots on the surface of branches or tree trunks. Cankers are not a tree disease but rather a symptom of health problems. If underlying issues are not resolved cankers can spread across the outer layer and begin to reach the trunk. If this happens the entire tree may die.

Identify and Manage Cytospora Cankers

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Cankers can result from any number of conditions, including simple physical damage. The more serious cases stem from disease or attack by small organisms which infect the tree and rot the wood.


There is one particular cause of cankers that kill many trees in Canada and the Greater Toronto Area. This is the Cytospora canker. It is currently the only form of canker known to affect spruce trees. Cytospora comes in three major varieties and has a unique set of symptoms that make it easy to identify. The primary identifier is the resin it produces. This resin is usually pale in color and grows in patches ranging from white to a purplish color. This relatively minor discoloration often allows Cytospora cankers to develop and flourish unnoticed by tree owners.

Identify and Manage Cytospora Cankers

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This symptom is followed by a slow but steady browning of the spruce needles and death or decay of lower branches. The best way to reduce the spread of Cytospora is to trim dying branches as close to the trunk as possible. However, while doing this try to avoid damaging the body of the tree. A wound in the protective layer will allow fungus to seep in, affecting the trunk and swiftly killing the tree. Once this happens there is little that can be done to protect an individual plant. If a tree is too far gone it should be removed before it begins affecting others.

Caledon Treeland provides tree moving service throughout the GTA. If spruce trees on your property show signs of Cytospora cankers and/or you notice the tell-tale resin on your spruces contact us today at 905-880-1828. We can remove dead or dying trees and offer a wide selection of healthy replacements.

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