Weeping cherry trees belong to the Prunus genus and include the Higan Cherry, Yoshino Cherry and the Oriental or Japanese Cherry. Ornamental cherry trees tend to be short lived compared to other trees and are quite susceptible to common diseases that can either be a visual nuisance or something more serious that threatens the life of the tree.
Gray mold (botrytis) spores live and multiply in the leaf litter that surrounds the tree. The spores get splashed or knocked up onto the trunk where they infest weak or young tissue. Gray mold attacks the tree's branches, buds, stems, leaves and flowers. It coats them with a whitish gray fur, causing die back. Healthy plant tissues collapse into a gooey, decayed coating on the branches. The flowers will turn brown from the centers out and lose their texture before partially liquefying.
Verticillium wilt is a fungal infection that causes weeping cherry leaves to curl, droop or wilt, turn yellow and then brown and drop from the tree. The leaves' veins sometimes turn red from vascular damage. Verticillium wilt attacks first in the roots and then spreads up the tree. It will turn the interior wood of the tree a yellowish brown hue. While some trees recover, it can also be fatal in one to two years.
Wood Rot & Decay
Wood rot is commonly caused by fungi that invade the roots or interior wood of the weeping cherry and colonize on the bark. The fungi can be soft and spongy like flat mushrooms, furry like giant mold or hard tissues called conks. Only decaying wood of the tree is attacked, so trees often will appear healthy while the rot and fungi are active. Symptoms include odd crusts or shelf-like bodies attached to the trunk or openings in the branches or trunk where some wood has rotted away and created a void.