Cytospora Canker is a damaging fungal disease affecting several varieties of Spruce. It can also affect Douglas Fir, Hemlock and the common Eastern White Pine.
The fungal spores associated with Cytospora Canker are spread by wind, pruning tools and even the feet of birds. The fungus appears as white, grey or bluish-grey spots or streaks on the trunk and/or limbs as shown in the photo. Cytospora Canker can kill in a couple of ways; either limb by limb from any point in the tree or from the top down. Most of the time, however, limbs at the bottom of the tree are the first to exhibit stress and die off.
Cytospora Canker is not as big a problem in mountainous states because the rock and fine soil drains well, creating a wonderful environment for the trees’ root systems. In our area, the heavy, loamy, clay soils adversely affect these trees almost from the day they are planted. Weakened trees are much more susceptible to insect and fungal issues. In the proper environment, Spruce can live well over 500 years, but, in our urban settings, without proper nutrition and drainage, 50-75 years is all that should be expected, unless they are properly cared for.