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Black knot (Apiosporina morbosa) is a fungal disease that causes greenish brown to black swellings in the stems of cherry trees (Prunus spp.). Its spores are released following periods of warm, wet weather and are spread by splashing water, wind, birds, and insects.

The Problem

Black knot deforms branches and reduces their growth. Heavily infected trees often become stunted and may eventually die from the disease.

What The City Is Doing

  • City crews will continue the ongoing monitoring and pruning program for susceptible trees and monitor areas impacted by black knot
  • Currently, the City is completing an annual focus on a specific quadrant of the city; this year, the NW quadrant is being reviewed and pruned for black knot
  • During the fall/winter of 2021/2022, crews will be focused on the SE quadrant
  • To ensure the completion of this operational work plan, the focus will remain on these specific quadrants
  • Only City crews are authorized to prune infected trees on public property
  • Pruning for black knot takes place between late fall to early spring when the tree and spores are dormant and when the knots are easier to see
  • The pruning cycle for Prunus spp. is approximately every 4 years
  • Pruning tools and equipment are sterilized between each cut using an approved environmentally-friendly solution which prevents the spread of the disease
  • Diseased wood chips and logs are disposed of at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre or the Northlands Recycling Centre, this ensures that the wood chips are not reused for tree planting or in shrub beds

What You Can Do

Regularly monitor your cherry tree(s) for symptoms of black knot. Early on, the disease appears as small light brown swellings, usually found on new green stems. As the knots mature, the swellings will appear olive green with a velvety texture. Eventually the knots darken and harden. If you detect black knot, follow the guidelines below:

  • Prune out the infected branches between late fall and early spring when the plants dormant and the knots are easier to see
  • Remove the infected branches to at least 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) below the knot
  • It is best to prune an infected branch further back to a suitable location, such as a healthy collar, rather than leave a stub
  • For knots on the trunk or scaffold branches, the main branches growing directly from the trunk, that can’t be removed, cut away the diseased material down to good tissue and at least 1 cm (1/2 inch) beyond the edge of the knot
  • Sterilize your cutting tools between each cut using bleach to prevent further spread of the disease
  • Destroy infected prunings immediately, as they can continue to produce spores for months after being removed; galls can be placed into a plastic bag for regular household garbage pickup

For More Information

Pest Management

12304 107 Street NW
Edmonton AB  T5G 2S7


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


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