Fat Albert Spruce branches losing needles #436063 - Ask Extension


Fat Albert Spruce branches losing needles #436063

Asked December 06, 2017, 4:26 PM EST

I have an eleven-year-old Fat Albert Spruce tree that has lost many of its needles. The tree is about 12 feet tall and up until this past year (2016) was vibrant and covered in thick needles. Many of the branches are now very thinly populated with needles with no branches looking healthy. Nearby trees and bushes show no signs of illness. Looking this up on-line the only two diseases I find are fungal and bottom-up in nature and some form of spiders/mites. I have not found anything about successful treatments--and as a non-expert, I'm not sure the problem is a fungus but I don't see signs of the spiders/mites. Any suggestions regarding steps I can take to save this tree are appreciated.

Howard County Maryland

Expert Response

Fat Albert is a variety of Colorado blue spruce.  Blue spruce are extremely susceptible to two fungal diseases as they age:  cytospora canker https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/cytospora-canker-spruce

and rhyzosphaeria needlecast: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/evergreen-needle-cast-diseases-trees-and-shrubs

The first is the most common, yet about 80% of the trees simultaneously have the second disease. Please read through the links given. Unfortunately blue spruce are a tree that should just be enjoyed for a while with the knowledge that it will not be long-lived. 

Consider replanting with a Maryland native.


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