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Leafless shoots, or twigs with sparse, small foliage. Bark that's sunken and distorted, or swollen and cracked, that features small red or white pustules.

Find it on: apples, pears, rowan, beech, ash, other broad-leaved trees
Time to act: spring, summer, autumn, winter


Left unchecked, canker can gradually spread to affect whole branches and sections of trees. Severely-infected old trees may be beyond rescue, while young trees are vulnerable to infection, particularly where other susceptible trees are growing in close proximity. Where trees are suffering stress as a result of drought or waterlogging, they may be more liable to infection. Canker may also infect fruit, so they rot on the tree before harvesting or when in store. If your trees have suffered this in the past and you're considering replacing them, choose canker-resistant varieties such as the apples 'Grenadier', 'Laxton's Superb' and 'Newton Wonder', and the pear 'Concorde'.


Leafless shoots, or twigs with sparse, small foliage. Bark that's sunken and distorted, or swollen and cracked, that features small red or white pustules.


Use secateurs to cut out all infected growth. Infected branches show dark staining of the creamy coloured wood inside, so prune back to healthy wood that shows no sign of staining. Carefully slice away cankers on large branches and trunks using a sharp knife. Afterwards, sterilise your knife and secateurs with methylated spirits to avoid cross-contamination. Where canker is a problem, choose resistant varieties.

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Talkback: Canker
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coink2009 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Hello and thank you in advance

I have a fruit Cherry tree which has provided us with some wonderful large sized Cherries (that's if we get to them before the birds) The tree is approx 4ft high and purchased 3 years ago. Last year I noticed the bark is splitting and oozing a golden sap, It's worse this year could you tell me what could be causing this to happen?

kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I have to get rid of a tree that is really no good, I have purchased a new tree but on small rootstock, intend growing in the ground rather than a pot, how far from the original tree should I plant it. the garden is small.

AndyD_OHD 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I have just signed up. I wondered how and where any solution/proposed resolutions to problems are posted?

I have a small orchard with Victoria plum trees, and any I replace seem to be getting canker quickly. Isn't there anything I can do to reverse the problem? Are there any plum varieties which are resistant to canker?

Peat B 09/12/2011 at 16:07

I have found that a good dousing of bordeaux mix on the tree branches in the spring, before flowering, and a good splosh around the trunk up to 1.5 metres high, seems to help. I picked this up when in France a couple of years ago.

gardening Rev 11/08/2013 at 17:40

I have 2 Apples and a pear, several other trees and shrubs arround. The pear has Canker and has had FOR YEARS! it has never spread or reduced the number of delicious pears we have every year.

All were planted over 30 years ago. Am I just lucky?

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