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Environment and Outdoors

Maine Detects First Known Case Of Beech Leaf Disease

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State regulators say that a relatively new disease that attacks beech trees has been located for the first time in Maine.

It's called beech leaf disease and has caused the decline and mortality of beech species from Ohio to Southern New England since it was first discovered in 2012.

"We're still really in the very early learning phases of understanding this disease and the impacts it might have," says Aaron Bergdahl, Maine Forest Service pathologist. He says the disease appears to be linked to a tiny nematode worm native to Japan that overwinters in the bud of the beech.

"We don't know how it spreads, we don't know how it can be controlled- we've really gone from trees exhibiting no symptoms last year to trees exhibiting really advanced symptoms this year," Bergdahl says.

Beech leaf disease was confirmed recently in samples taken from trees in the Waldo county town of Lincolnville, but the forest service says symptoms have also been spotted in beech trees in Belfast, Rockport, Searsmont and Hope.

Those symptoms include: dark bands on the leaves, curled, deformed or droopy leaves, and a diminished canopy.

State regulators are asking people to report any such cases to the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry.