LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has identified invasive beech leaf disease in a private woodlot in southern St. Clair County in Southeast Michigan.

Beech leaf disease has not been found in Michigan before. It is associated with the microscopic worm Litylenchus crenatae. The worm is a nematode that spends the winter in leaf buds, damaging leaf tissues in beech trees.

Trees exposed to the disease become susceptible to other diseases and can die within 6-10 years.

Michigan is home to 37 million American beech trees, which are important to forests as they provide food and shelter for wildlife.

There is no known treatment for beech leaf disease.

“Though beech leaf disease was detected this spring, the condition of the leaves and number of trees affected at this location suggests the disease has been there for more than a year,” said Simeon Wright, DNR forest health specialist. “Because symptoms are slow to emerge, it is difficult to detect the disease before it is established.”

The symptoms of beech leaf disease include damaged leaf tissue, dead buds, and thick tissue bands between leaf veins.

“Many questions about beech leaf disease remain unanswered,” said Wright. “Because of this, we don’t yet know all the ways the disease might be spread, and currently there are no known treatments to protect trees or reduce disease impacts. We are working with the U.S. Forest Service, several other states, Ontario and Michigan State University to better understand the disease and the potential effects it will have in Michigan’s forests.”

If you suspect you have found a symptomatic tree, take one or more photos of the infested tree, including close-ups of affected leaves; note the location, date and time; and report it in one of the following ways: