Silver Leaf of Plums and Cherries

Silver leaf disease of plums and cherries can affect fruit trees like plums and cherries. It can cause poor growth, dieback and ultimately tree death.

It is caused by the fungus Chondrostereum purpureum and infects through wounds, mainly caused by pruning. Thats why plums and cherries are best pruned during summer to avoid the fungus spores infecting the new wounds.

The typical symptom that you may recognize is the ‘silvering’ sheen of the leaves which can occur during summer months. See the comparison below with a leaf which is ‘silvering’ and a healthy green one. The silvering is only an effect of the fungus producing a toxin which separates the leaf layers and shows as this symptom.  Fruiting bodies of the fungus can appear from late summer on the stem or branches.

silvering of the leaf compared to a healthy green

Once established all plums and cherries any pruning works should be done in the summer( July-August) where less fungus spores are around. (Though we recommend that if new trees are planted in winter then they should be pruned then as any chance of silver leaf infection is very small).

If plums or cherries are infected and parts of the tree are silvering and/or dieback is occurring then pruning out of the infected parts is about the only thing that can be done. There is no real chemical control.

For more info a good guide on how to deal with it is at Gardening Which advice page or the RHS gardening advice page

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