Sourwood tree dropping leaves?

We have a Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) that is dropping a lot (but not all) of leaves this week. It did this last year at this time. Is this normal for a sourwood tree? This tree is about 30 years old, gets full sun, plenty of water and drainage, nutrients from nearby compost piles. The leaves are annoying in that they fall into a nearby pond and I am considering removing the tree unless I can correct the leaf drop problem. This tree is native to east Tennessee and growing here before the property was developed. It has tripled in size in the last 10 years. Twelve years ago I removed a heavy bugle vine that wrapped its trunk and canopied the top.
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Oh I hope you don't remove it-- a gorgeous native tree.
How do the leaves look when they drop? Yellow, burned, wrinkled, spotty....? You mention a pond, is the pond newly constructed?
Dave

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I collected a few leaves this morning, scanned them, and posted the image on alt.binaries.pictures.gardens. The leaves are green, slightly wrinkled and covered with black spots. The edge of a natural spring-fed pond is 15 feet downhill from the sourwood tree, built 8 years ago. Could this be "black spot" fungus? If so, will this kill the tree? The tree is about 30' tall. I'd rather not remove the tree, I find the deep ribbed bark attractive and it provides a home for tree frogs. Thanks for any suggestions.
On Mon, 17 May 2004 13:04:08 GMT, "David J Bockman"

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Very rarely will a leaf spot disease kill the tree. Odds are your tree has Cercospora oxydendri. A copper based fungicide at 2 week intervals once the leaves expand.
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I moved some 30-50' tall (to 16" caliper) to NY and CT from TN and WV a few years ago. I have never seen a blackspot fungus on these or more locally derived, nursery produced Oxydendrum. This is a new one on mew.
--
Mike LaMana, MS
Heartwood Consulting Services, LLC
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The sourwood tree has stopped dropping its leaves. The leaf drop lasted about 3-4 days and the tree appears to be doing fine. I find it strange that a tree that recently leafed out would drop many leaves. I can only conclude it was under some kind of (temporary) stress.
On Mon, 17 May 2004, Phisherman wrote:

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