HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut’s state parks are home to groves of beech trees. Typically, they provide a lush, shady canopy but you’ll notice a lot of branches and leaves missing from the trees at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden.
That’s because thousands of beech trees across Connecticut are infected with beech tree disease, endangering them all.
Arborists suggest this disease could wipe out not only every beech tree in the state, but every beech tree in the country.
“I have not seen a beech tree uninfected,” said licensed arborist Dan Poole.
This disease is caused by microscopic worms that settle into the beech leaves, and there are thousands per tree.
Poole is an arborist for K&J Tree Service, and the resident expert on beech leaf disease. He says the rapid spread of this disease has stunned both arborists and scientists.
“They first suspected that it was carried by birds landing on branches, or chipmunks, or squirrels, but now, they don’t know why or how it is spreading so rapidly,” Poole said. “There is expected to be a 100 percent mortality rate of every beech tree in Connecticut, every beech tree in the northeast and North America.”
Yes, 100% is correct – every single beech tree is Connecticut is likely infected and will succumb to the disease.
“The bigger a tree gets, the more leaves it needs. So, with no photosynthesis taking place on these leaves, the demise of this species is inevitable,” Poole said.
It’s a relatively new disease, so history won’t solve the problem.
“We can’t look back 50 years ago, ‘oh this happened, let’s do this,'” Poole said.
There is a race against time for a cure, but sadly it’s already too late.
“Something has to get sucked into the vascular system of these trees to get into the leaves,” Poole said. “The problem is, by the time scientists come up with a cure and it’s approved by the FDA, all the trees are going to be dead.”
Every beech tree is in a different state of decline, so there is a safety concern if you have any beech trees in your yard.
“These leaves are going to fall off, the tree is going to be in a state of decline, limbs are going to start falling off,” Poole said. “It’s more important to remove these trees while there is strength in the wood.”
Check your yard for beech trees – they’re easily identified by their smooth trunk. Poole suggests having them removed before any strong wind gusts cause them to fall on your property. If you have any questions, a licensed arborist can help.