A canker is similar to an "open wound" on an animal. The are usually the result of an infection an injury to the bark of a tree or shrub. One common cause of canker disease in plants is the fungus, Nectria cinnabarina. Otherwise healthy plants will usually form callus tissue around the canker and form a barrier that prevents the wound from spreading. In weakened or unhealthy trees, the canker may continue to grow and could circle and kill the branch or even the main trunk causing death to the plant.

The infected area will become slightly sunken and discolored. Salmon, pink or cream colored fungal fruiting bodies form in spring to early summer. They are followed by red to orangish-red structures in the late summer into fall.

About the only way to deal with cankers is to prevent them. Once the fungus gets going, there is no other treatment. So, avoiding injury to the bark of trees and other woody plants is the only real approach. This means avoiding pruning or other wounds especially in the warm, wet parts of the year. Protect young trees from freeze damage by using wraps where possible.

No treatments only prevention.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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