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Diseases of the Forest Pansy Tree

The forest pansy tree (Cercis canadensis) is a variety of redbud tree that grows as an understory tree in the moist woodlands of the southern half of the US. It is useful as a landscaping tree if the right conditions are met which is bright shade and rich soil. Occasionally, diseases of the forest pansy tree cause problems that result in the decline of this beautiful small tree.


Canker begins as a sunken black spot somewhere on a limb. It grows under the bark and the bark will fall away exposing the blackened area which eventually girdles the limb. The section of the limb above the girdled area will die. For control, trim back the affected limb all the way to the main branch removing the diseased branch.

Leaf Spots

Leaf spots are caused by different fungal spores that attach themselves to the leaves. They appear after periods of hot weather followed by abundant rain. They seem to affect forest pansy trees that are planted where they receive too much sun. The leaves can eventually turn yellow and fall off the tree. A forest pansy tree needs shade from the hottest afternoon sun. No remedy is available and the tree usually recovers by the next spring when new foliage appears.

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt lives in the soil and invades the tree through the root system and sometimes through wounds in the tree. An affected forest pansy tree will show uneven growth, yellowing leaves, or areas of dead or dying foliage and limbs. Occasionally, the forest pansy tree will recover if all diseased limbs are removed and the plant is fertilized and given ample moisture. However, verticillium wilt often leads to decline and death of the tree.

Pruning Lessons For A Forest Pansy Tree

A few rules of thumb apply to pruning in general, including always using the proper tools. Use lopping shears -- ratcheted shears take some of the work out of it for you -- for branches up to 1 3/4 inches in diameter; pruning saws tackle branches up to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. If you must prune thicker, more mature branches or trunks, use a chainsaw. Always prune just above the branch collar, or the raised area just above the crotch of two branches. During its youth, the many thick trunks of "Forest Pansy" will begin to branch out from the bottom of the tree. If your "Forest Pansy" specimen is taking on an undesirable shape, you may wish to prune it into a more desirable growth pattern. For example, some branches may grow out at too wide of an angle or in an undesirable direction. Remove these branches and twigs just after blooming in late spring. Redbuds typically bloom in early spring; pruning in fall or winter could result in reduced flowering. Remove branches that are rubbing or growing toward the interior of the tree, as well as those that show signs of disease.

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