Growing trees and plants in a home garden can be a fulfilling, relaxing and even productive hobby. Liquid amber trees, also known as sweet gum trees, can add a beautiful dash of color to your garden. These trees can grow to be 75 feet tall with a spread of 50 feet, and in the fall or early winter, they feature beautiful, star-shaped leaves that turn shades of red, orange, yellow and even purple. Like any plants, these trees are susceptible to some kinds of disease.
Liquid amber trees can be highly susceptible to canker diseases. Cankers are plant diseases that cause sunken areas in the trunk; some of these sunken areas may even appear to be bleeding amber or sap. Cankers generally infect areas of the tree that have already been damaged; for example, the trunk of a tree can easily by damaged by a lawnmower strike during yard grooming.
If canker infections become too severe, they can essential rot the tree trunk, causing everything around the canker infection to die. There is no chemical cure for canker diseases in plants. To prevent the disease from spreading through your tree, make sure that it is always properly fed and watered. Much like humans, healthy plants that don't have to struggle to grow or survive will be better able to fight off these infections. Prune damaged or infected branches or areas of the trunk before they can become infected or spread the infection.
Bacterial Leaf Scorch
Though this disease is not particularly common among sweet gum trees, bacterial leaf scorch can be devastating to the life of a tree. Bacterial leaf scorch causes obvious symptoms of leaf scorch, which involves the normally beautiful leaves of the liquid amber tree to appear a burnt-looking dark orange or brown color. Generally, there will be a sharp yellow line or hallow separating the scorched, damaged tissue from the healthy tissue of the leaf. Bacterial leaf scorch will also cause premature browning of the leaves.
The infection is spread from leaf to leaf, or from branch to branch, by insects traveling among the branches of the tree. Generally speaking, pruning tools will not spread the disease from branch to branch; you can sterilize the blades of your trimming shears or other pruning tools in between each use to be sure. There is no sure-fire way to prevent or cure bacterial leaf scorch. This disease will gradually destroy the tree, generally taking a few years but killing the tree for sure. Certain chemical treatments can help to slow down the symptoms; consult with an expert at your local garden center or nursery for specific instructions regarding trees in your area.
According to Trees USA, liquid amber trees are susceptible to damage from ozone and air pollution. Trees in rural areas are just as susceptible as those in urban areas, since the pollution can travel long distances on the wind. Symptoms of ozone damage include small specks or flecks, usually colored white, tan, orange or red. These specks can be as large as a quarter-inch long and appear on the upper side of the leaves. The specks can cause the leaves to wither and drop from the tree prematurely.
There is really no way to prevent or cure damage from ozone pollution, as it travels in the air that the tree uses to thrive. However, if you are trying to diagnose a problem and you suspect it may be ozone pollution, Trees USA suggests that you try to find some local white pine trees. These trees are extremely sensitive to ozone pollution and can let you know if there is any in the area.
Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.