Around the base of the tree there was a lot of dead grass - perhaps june-bug larvae had been feasting on the roots of this tree. You may also find D shaped holes and ridges on the tree truck and the branches. The buds have since opened, the tree did its dangly birch flower thing, and the tree filled in with leaves. Trees grown near driveways or patios with a limestone base that is alkaline can be affected as the roots grow into the base. Some trees may have naturalized in the wild from yards and gardens, but several populations in New England are native, and the species is listed as rare in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I do not see any webbing or holes in the trunk, leaves or branches. Q: I have a river birch that has 3 trees (clumps) together. Although leafminers do not kill birches, they affect the tree's aesthetics, turning the leaves brown, and weaken the tree's ability to withstand an attack by bronze birch borers or survive extreme environmental conditions. River birch tolerates low soil oxygen, flooding, and clay soil, but needs moist conditions. On April 22nd 2018, the River Birch was looking very poorly again - almost no leaves on the upper branches and the few tiny leaves that had appeared on the lower branches had brown edges and were curling. Shiloh Splash river birch (Betula nigra 'Shiloh Splash'): A compact form growing 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. This early defoliation can kill young trees, but most mature river birches can survive leaf spot disease. Heritage® river birch (Betula nigra ‘Cully’): Larger, glossy, dark green leaves, nearly white interior peeling bark, more heat tolerant. Leafminers are a common insect pest of birch trees. It bears leaves 1.5”–3” long leaves which are simple, ovate, and arranged alternately on the stems. My young river birch have brown rusty edges on some of the lower leaves. When the trees went into the ground they all had buds. 3) If your birch tree exhibits yellowing leaves with sparse foliage at the top of the tree, branch or twig die-back and increased side growth on lower branches; you may have a Bronze Birch Borer which is the larvae of an iridescent olive brown beetle. I planted a clump of three river birches a little over a month ago. The tree requires an acid soil, otherwise it becomes chlorotic. Without treatment, the leaves will yellow and eventually drop. Birch Leafminer. It looks like a fungal infection, probably from the humid weather (and made worse when I water the lawn in the evening after work). The spots may be circular in shape, or they can grow large enough to create clusters across the leaves of your river birch tree. River birch is hardy, grows rapidly, but tends to be short-lived (30 to 40 years) in many urban settings, possibly due to inadequate water supply. The affected leaves can be stunted and have browning along the edges. 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