Bacterial Leaf Scorch

Chronic bacterial disease effecting shade trees, transmitted by xylem-feeding insects and compounded by a tree’s biological reaction to block the disease by closing off its own xylem. Rapidly multiplying bacteria colonize and overtake the tree’s water conducive tissues/xylem, dramatically reducing water transport to the crown’s branches and leaves.

This disease is a major aesthetic concern for landscape trees, as well as a safety threat in severely damaged or dead trees.

Latin Name

Xylella fastidiosa

Trees Affected

Oaks (pin, bur, scarlet, red, laurel, water, turkey, bluejack, shingle), sycamore, mulberry, red maple, sugar maple, American elm.

Also effects over 30 plant families as both experimental and natural hosts.

Threat to Trees



Slow decline with increased dieback each year, leading to tree mortality.


Transmitted by xylem-feeding insects,–Cercopidae (spittlebugs) and Cicadellidae (leafhoppers)

Signs & Symptoms

Marginal leaf necrosis, browning

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(halo border between dead/scorched tissue and green tissue), discoloration begins at the margins and moves towards the midrib. Symptoms increase in severity each year and spread throughout the crown, leading to increased dieback and reduced growth. Symptoms often confused with physiological leaf scorch or early fall colors, so diagnostic testing is often suggested.

Domestic Origins


Geographic Location

Coastal states from New York to Texas, Washington D.C., California, Indiana,

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Kentucky, Nebraska, and Ohio

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