What Are The Spots On My Leaves? What Do They Mean?

Jul 25th 2022

Spots on tree leaves are a common problem throughout North Central Florida, including Gainesville. While leaf spots are not typically dangerous, they might be a cause for concern. By knowing the leaf spots’ cause and what you can do to treat and prevent them, you’ll have healthier and happier trees that require less maintenance. If your tree’s leaves have spots on them, or for any other tree concern, SkyFrog Tree Service is your trusted arborist! We handle all types of tree problems and can help you ensure your trees grow and stay strong for years to come.

Contact us to request a free estimate for all of your tree care needs and learn more about our wide range of insured tree services. We also provide tree restoration and preservation services during and after construction.

What Are Leaf Spots?

If there are brown spots on your leaves, then the issue is likely caused by a common fungal infection, though it may be caused by bacteria in rare cases. Other times, spots can be caused by insects on the tree. Leaf spots are a common issue affecting many different species of ornamental and shade trees. Most of the time, no action needs to be taken, and the spots are simply cosmetic problems that don’t affect tree health. If you notice certain signs, such as a significant amount of leaves falling off or if your tree is young, then the spots may indicate a more serious problem that requires treatment from professional arborists.

What Do Leaf Spots Look Like?

The spots on tree leaves can vary in appearance. The leaves can feature dark speckles either on their top or underside areas. If the spots are on the top of the leaves or they are raised on the underside of the leaves, they may not look like they are part of the leaf tissue. These symptoms could mean your tree is affected with aphids, mites, leaf mealybugs, scale, or whiteflies, among other pests and tree issues. If the spots are located on the top side of the leaf, seem to be part of the leaf tissue, and appear dry or soft and mushy, then the issue could stem from bacterial leaf blight, a manganese imbalance in the fertilizer, a pH imbalance, too much sunlight, or stagnant water on the leaves, and more. If the spots on the leaves only show up on the underside and appear dry or shiny, it could be leaf nematodes or thrips.

How To Treat Leaf Spots

If you notice leaf spots affecting your trees, especially in early spring, then the afflicted leaves might just fall off, and new leaves can later return without the spots. But if your tree undergoes defoliation before it is expected to through multiple seasons, the tree’s health could be negatively impacted. 

Remove Infected Leaves

When you notice your tree has troublesome spots, the most important thing is to stop the spread of infection to other leaves and to other parts of the tree. As such, you should be diligent about raking up and disposing of problematic leaves as they fall and prune away the affected leaves from the tree. This isn’t typically a cure, but it can help preserve healthy leaves. Since this can be quite an undertaking, we recommend consulting a local tree expert, such as the arborists with SkyFrog Tree Service, to perform tree pruning. Our team members can properly diagnose your tree and perform any additional steps to restore your tree to full health!

Keep Leaves Dry

Rainfall can be significant, specifically during North Central Florida’s rainiest seasons. However, once you notice brown spots or specks on your tree’s leaves, you should do what you can to limit overhead watering. The best way to do this is with focused watering. Oftentimes, when we water with a hose, we provide the base of the tree with rigorous soaking and we’ll often spray off the leaves as an added bonus. If your leaves have spots, however, splashing water onto the spots can possibly cause the disease to spread. If you rely on a sprinkler system to water your tree, adjust the setting so water doesn’t reach and soak the leaves.