This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Dear Sir - After all the time that has elapsed since the potato disease made its appearance, and the many speculations that have appeared, pray inform me if anything is considered as settled on the subject? Is there any well ascertained cause for this malady? That there has been no certain remedy discovered, I am well aware, nor does it appear to me there is likely to be, so long as we remain wholly in the dark as to the origin or cause of the disease.
The same remarks apply to the disease under which the button wood still suffers in all parts of the country; I should say, perhaps, such as are not already killed by it. It is now some ten years since this disease made its appearance. At that time the plane tree, or button wood, (sycamore it is often incorrectly called,) was one of our fairest and most majestic forest and shade trees in all parts of the United States. At the present time, hundreds and thousands of the trees - many of them of fifty or sixty years growth - are entirely dead, most of the remainder are either half dead, or in the last stages of decline and debility, and it is a very rare thing, indeed, to find a healthy and luxuriant specimen anywhere in the Atlantic states. The loss of the plane tree is not such a positive loss to be counted in dollars and cents, as that of the potato crop, still it is worthy of being noticed, that one of the hardiest and most luxuriant of all our native forest trees, which has evidently never suffered in this way before, (vide, the fact that sound trees were to be found 200 years old, in a sound and healthy state before this malady,) should be a marked tree, to be visited by such a plague, while all the other trees of the forest remain healthy and vigorous.
Can nothing be done for the sycamore? Will you, or some of your correspondents, throw a little light on the subject. Yours, A Constant Reader.