Poplar: Canker

categories: Ornamental trees Ornamentals Poplar Poplar Diseases

revision date: 2022-11-29 12:00

Canker on willow branch.
Canker on willow branch
Photo by: R.S. Byther


Canker of poplar is a fungal disease infecting twigs and branches of all sizes. The fungi enter twigs through wound sites and cause development of sunken, circular, brown cankers in the bark. Branch cankers are often associated with dead twigs and may grow down the branch and infect larger limbs. Bark beneath the cankered area turns black, and the wood is reddish-brown and appears water-soaked. Black, gray, or white fungal fruiting bodies may be present. Twig and branch dieback (with or without apparent cankers) is also associated with this disease. Weakened trees are more susceptible to infection. Injuries caused by heat, drought, frost, or other diseases can provide infection sites.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Some poplar hybrids such as ‘Easter’, ‘Mighty Mo’, ‘Nor’, and ‘Platte’ are somewhat resistant.
  • Provide proper culture. Healthy plants are more resistant to disease and more tolerant of minor damage.
  • Avoid wounding trees. Wounds provide sites of infection for the fungi.
  • Prune out and destroy (do not compost) infected and killed twigs and branches, both to reduce spread of disease and for safety reasons.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • None recommended