White Fungus on Poplar Trees in North Carolina


Poplars are large trees that thrive in swampy areas and damp riverbanks throughout North Carolina. The wet climate, frequent rainfall and high number of insects make North Carolina a favorable environment for the growth of various fungal diseases that commonly attack the trees. One of the most common of these is known as powdery mildew.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease that thrives in humid, moist climates. It most often affects areas with densely planted trees where splashing rainfall can spread the spores and promote growth. Powdery mildew is common on most trees, plants and shrubs in North Carolina wetlands and riverbanks.

Life Cycle

During the spring, the powdery mildew fungus releases spores, which are carried through the wind and rain. These spore will cling to the trunks and leaves of various plants in the nearby region. As winter sets in and leaves are lost, the fungus survives by attaching itself to fallen debris or other infected plant parts.


As powdery mildew grows and develops on poplar trees, it begins as circular white spots that will expand in time. This contagion begins to steal nutrients from the plant and use the resources to further reproduce. As the spots mature, they grow into fuzzy mildew that covers mainly leaf surfaces.


As the infection spreads through the leaves, trees become unable to cling to them. The loss of leaves disrupts the tree's ability to carry out photosynthesis and create the food stores it needs to produce buds and seeds. Powdery mildew will distort the natural growth of these plant organs and leave them worthless to the tree.

Long-Term Effects

Powdery mildew infections are not serious threats to larger trees such as the poplar. Since the fungus takes until at least mid-summer to actively spread, it does not have sufficient time to cause serious damage before the leaves are lost and winter sets in. The same disease can still have serious consequences for smaller organisms or leave poplar trees susceptible to further fungal pests.

Keywords: powdery mildew disease, poplar trees, North Carolina pests

About this Author

Jonathan Budzinski started his writing career in 2007. His work appears on websites such as eHow and WordGigs. Budzinski specializes in nonprofit topics, as he spent two years with Basic Rights Oregon and WomanSpace. He has received recognition as a Shining Star Talent Scholar in English while studying English at the University of Oregon.