If you have a sycamore tree — or its close relative, the London or the Oriental plane tree — then you might have noticed that the tree has been affected by a type of blight known as anthracnose, which is caused by a fungus Apiognomonia venta that can affect the buds, leaves, shoots, and twigs. This problem is common throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Delaware.
Because the fungus overwinters in cankers on twigs and branches of diseased trees, some of the major contributing factors are the level of rainfall and the average daily temperatures present in the area during spring. This year, cool and wet conditions have been especially favorable to the development of anthracnose.
Anthracnose can be present in any one of several stages of twig and leaf development: Twig blight occurs before the leaves appear, with buds dying before they open. In this stage, small black dots the fungus are often seen on the bark of dead twigs. Shoot blight can happen as the young leaves start to emerge, and is often characterized by classic symptoms of small brown, wrinkled leaves see photo. Even the fully-grown leaves that emerge can be infected by spores present in the twig cankers. This is manifested by the irregular appearance of small or large light brown dead spots along the vein.
Eventually, dark brown spots on diseased areas can result in the leaves dying and falling off prematurely.
Severe cases can result in cankers appearing on large limbs, which are often killed and may need to be removed by pruning. Fungal spores are spread by rainfall.
Peeling Sycamore Tree Bark is Normal
Although fungal diseases thrive in moist conditions, early-spring temperatures are the most critical factor in disease severity. Average temperatures in the range of 50 to 55 degrees during bud break and early-leaf emergence are highly conducive to severe disease, whereas temperatures above 60 degrees usually result in slight outbreaks. According to the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, affected trees that lose their leaves will usually produce a healthy new crop as weather warms and discourages new infections.
However, repeated infection can stress the trees and make it susceptible to infection by other pests, such as borers. What you can do now Experts recommend raking and destroying fallen leaves and twigs to remove the fungus and prevent future infections. Diseased or dead branches should be pruned or removed to remove the fungus.
When selecting a sycamore or plane tree for a new planting, choose more resistant species, such as the Oriental plane, the London plane, and lastly, the American sycamore. While there are fungicides available for smaller trees and possibly systemic trunk injections for larger trees that can be applied in the fall, it is best to consult someone trained in disease identification such as a certified arborist or reputable tree care company. If the tree does not have anthracnose, then fungicides will not help: Skip to Content Skip to Navigation.
Its majestic proportions are in themselves enough to command admiration: From its sturdy trunk, huge limbs shoot at symmetrical angles in every direction, ever widening as they rear higher. The grandeur and symmetry of it all is truly striking. The physical beauty of the tree is, however, incidental only to the chief interest that is attached to it. If you examine the outlines carefully, you will detect an almost exact formation of the human hand projecting from the ground and lifted as if in appeal, the trunk forming the wrist and the five limbs into which the trunk divides, forming the fingers.
For some years after the founding of Notre Dame, it was not uncommon to see an Indian moving about the grounds, revisiting old haunts and enjoying the natural beauty which then, as now, was very great. One old chief, in particular, was observed coming here several times.
He seemed most interested in two places; one along the shore of the lake, where, usually in the evening he would stand with arms folded, silently contemplating the waters with their peace and beauty at sunset; the other was near the sycamore, then in its youth. He would linger at this spot for a long time with head bowed or with eyes raised to heaven, as if in silent prayer. One of the brothers who had observed this several times became interested and inquired from the Indian why he spent so much time near this tree.
The Indian did not speak for a few seconds. His face was calm, yet revealed his suppressed grief. Then he lifted his hand impatiently as if to wave the matter aside, but when the brother spoke again in a tone of sympathy, the old chief told his story. In the earlier days, when raids between the white men and the Indians were frequent, one white settler, who had lost a friend he cherished greatly, swore eternal enmity against every Red-skin. On one occasion this man, while hunting, was passing through what are now the grounds of Notre Dame, when he caught sight of an Indian, fishing peacefully on the shore of the lake.
The Indian was unarmed and suspected nothing. He was a Christian convert, a man of peace and had always sought friendship with the white man. At the sight of the Indian, however, the Indian-hater could not restrain his feelings. He crept up softly toward the shore of the lake and, springing suddenly from the bushes, drove his hunting knife into the back of the fisherman. The Indian with a yell, started up and ran eastward from the lake, but when he reached the spot where now stands the great sycamore, he fell exhausted.
Here his assaulter reached him again, and in spite the Indian's supplications and protestations of innocence, attacked him a second time. The Indian in agony cried out, saying: The Indian, then on the point of death, exclaimed: I appeal to God for vengeance. Some time after this occurrence, a little tree of strange shape sprang up where the Indian's blood had trickled into the earth.
Later the chief, who knew the circumstances of the Indian's death, on passing that way was struck by the peculiar shape of the tree, a miniature of its present form. Its signification then dawned upon him. Here was the hand and wrist of his dear friend extended to heaven. As the sapling grew it still retained its strange shape and the hand remains to this day lifted in appeal to God as a warning to all who might put to death an innocent man.
No one will doubt, probably, the wholly legendary character of this story, yet it is not lacking in naive creation. It resembles in some respects a Grecian myth -- the story of Apollo and Hyacinthus, or of Daphni.
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As with most stories of this kind, it may have had its origin in some fact and was then embellished by the Indian imagination. Such is the tale told by the old chief to the brother, and the brother, who loved such beautiful things as legends, passed the story on to us.
Call it a tale of fancy, invented by an over-vivid imagination; call it an unbelievable dream; but the huge old sycamore, remains to this day on the Grotto lawn, a relic of the romantic days of Notre Dame, a record of a day long since passed, and as such, its story will continue to live with us. I have reflected upon the legend many times in the process of looking for evidence to support it. Reading everything I could find on the settlement of the Midwest has enriched my understanding of the history of Indiana. It has left me with mixed emotions regarding the conflict between the early white settlers and the Indians.
I found myself in sympathy with both sides of the issue. The struggle of the pioneer white settlers to tame the wilderness of the western frontier is awe inspiring in that they paved the way for those to follow. We are all, the University included, enjoying the fruits of their labors and sacrifices.
Yet the cost to the Indians in the loss of their homelands and way of life cannot be measured. Eva McCombs whose home for 99 years was taken away in the name of progress in , to make way for the Toll Road, also must have been devastated. Most of the rest of her surrounding land is now owned by St. In reviewing the hostility on both sides of the issues, I found even more evidence during those times to explain the legend.
The situation was complicated by the fact that squatters had invaded Indian lands and now demanded immediate removal. Several resulting clashes between whites and Indians seemed to confirm predictions of imminent bloodshed if something was not done soon. The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, by R. David Edmunds, covers very thoroughly both the plight of the white settlers and the Indians during those early times. Indiana, the land of the Indians, could not have been more appropriately named. The line in the legend about hostility among the whites and the Indians was amply explained and the timing coincided with the probable age of the tree.
The problem between the whites and the red-skins escalated throughout the Old Northwest in the late s:. But American influence diminished further west. Among the villages scattered along the Tippecanoe and across the prairie to the Illinois, Potawatomi warriors realized that the Americans now were the dominant power in the region, yet they were not intimidated by American forts and garrisons.
Unlike the Potawatomis near Fort Wayne and Detroit, the western tribesmen were isolated from American military power and continued to act independently of American policy. Intertribal conflict [with the Osages] often spread into indiscriminate attacks upon whites unlucky enough to encounter Potawatomi war parties returning.
Warriors who had been unsuccessful against the Osages hated to return to their villages empty-handed and sometimes substituted white scalps for those of the Osages. Solitary travelers feared for their lives upon meeting mounted parties of Potawatomis, and isolated farmers paid a heavy price for venturing away from the populated American Bottom. Over the next decade hostilities escalated.
A Cave of Candles 22
Wiser chiefs not only sought to keep liquor from their warriors, but blamed the Americans for their corruption. The decisive American victory at Tippecanoe in did not diminish Potawatomi hostility. Frustrated by the steady loss of Indian land, many young Potawatomis no longer followed their traditional village chiefs, who continued to cooperate with the Americans. They were well stocked with trade whiskey, and angered over the sight of white men establishing farms in an area they believed their own.
Young warriors continued to ambush and kill white settlers and the whites retaliated by burning Indian villages. Times had been changing long before Father Badin conveyed the ownership of the tract of land known as St. Marie des Lacs to Brute in More evidence of the ongoing friendliness and generosity of the Christian Indians toward the French missionaries is noted in the overwhelming welcome the "chief of the Blackrobes" received. Word had been passed and even Indians from surrounding villages were waiting to greet him. The following day they assembled once more to witness a formal ceremony of welcome.
Sixteen persons were confirmed and their chief, Chechaukkose offered the bishop a section of acres of land. Although the Potawatomis had ceded all tribal lands in Michigan, many Indians held individual reservations, and other tribesmen still wandered through the Saint Joseph Valley. Father Arthur Hope in his book, Notre Dame years , speaks of those early years before and after the time of Sorin's arrival:. In the north northern part of Indiana where the Catholic Indians were rapidly becoming victims of the white settlers, to whom they eventually lost everything, there was urgent need of a priest who could be their champion and consoler [Benjamin Petit].
It was always true that the poverty and ignorance of the Indians, their lack of union, their simplicity, their taste for liquor, made them easy victims of white supremacy Manifest Destiny.
Father Hope also speaks of Father Cointet who became, in Sorin's time, another champion and consoler of the downtrodden:. It was to the sons of the forest, the remnant of the red race passing from the plains of Indiana and to the advanced guard of civilization, the poor Irish laborers of the railroad that he delighted to break the bread. Now riding at nightfall over wide extent of country to reach some Indian wigwam, or seated in a shanty, by the side of an unfinished railroad, hearing the confessions of the poor Irish women.
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The Indian chief's words in the legend, "there was bad blood between the early white settlers and those of the Red-skin race," aptly describe those hostile times during the late s and the early s when the legend was born and the sycamore is most likely to have taken root. As the story goes, the innocent Redman being unable to reap human vengeance for his death entered in spirit into the tree and stretched its branches to heaven in supplication for God's justice.
Legend holds that this event actually happened though it cannot be confirmed from surviving records. There was only one other aspect of the Notre Dame Sycamore and its legend that puzzled me.