Scale, Fungus, or Lichen on Montmorency Cherry Tree Bark

Hi I have this all over the trunk and upper limbs. Where it is not present, the branches are deep brown and there are blossoms. Where it is present, there appears to be no life. What is it and how do I treat it? Zone 5 and very rainy.

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You have lichen. If there is any correlation to suffering trees, it is the slow growth of the branches and trunk that allowes the lichen anchorage- a healthy trunk and branches often grow so fast they shed lichen. Here is an informative article on the subject.

It is a lichen, and lichens themselves do not harm trees. As Alan said, the lichen may signal a problem you have to solve, but the lichen itself is not a problem. No need to get rid of it.

In fact, picking it off may create new wounds in the bark and make the tree more susceptible to insects or infection.

ETA: In fact, lichens can be a reassuring sign that there is limited air pollution where you live. If there is a lot of sulfur dioxide being produced by industry in the area, and the air quality is bad, no/very few lichens will be seen on trees, because acid rain makes conditions very inhospitable for lichens. So, your cherry tree may be having a hard time of it, but it’s not due to the lichens. In fact, the lichens are actually telling you your air quality is probably pretty good.

During the industrial revolution, several species of lichens became extinct or were endangered.

(Sorry if I’m going on about this…I’ve been fascinated by lichens ever since I’ve learned about them in college. I, too, thought they were harmful, but found out lichens were actually harmless and perhaps even beneficial, so I’ve become fascinated and protective of them. They come in several kinds of colors and shapes, and one can just appreciate them for their beauty.)


I have lots of lichens on my Nanking cherries also, but not on any of my other fruit trees

Thank You all.
Last year I had a Montmorency covered in this same {lichen} and it was withering and was totally debilitated.
So I sprayed it with either lime-sulfur or a copper product (I forget which) and low and behold it has come back with a flourish, with blossoms everywhere.
What might that mean?

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Interesting, I don’t spray my cherry bushes, maybe I should…

I would think it would mean your tree was suffering from some sort of fungal disease, and your spray killed that fungus, allowing your tree to rebound.

As to what sort of fungus it might have been, I’m sorry I don’t know…don’t have any cherries myself.

Have you tried going to your local extension office and asking about common diseases of cherries in the area and getting a spray schedule? Sometimes they’ll even come out and look at your tree.