Reasons Why Trees Die

Protect your trees against illnesses, and pest activity. Understanding the causes of tree death can enable you to spot potential problems and take appropriate action.

Tree Illnesses

In rare cases, tree diseases can kill your trees in a single growing season, wreaking havoc on your trees. The following are a few of the more widespread tree diseases:

  • Anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata)
  • Diplodia Tip Blight (Sphaeropsis sapinea)
  • Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora)
  • Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi)
  • Oak Wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum)
  • Canker ailments (caused by multiple fungal pathogens)

Indicators & Signs

Different diseases will cause distinct symptoms in affected trees. To avoid the infection spreading and the tree dying, all should be treated quickly. The following indicators can aid in the diagnosis of the illness you are experiencing.

  • Sunken spots or lesions of different colors on leaves, stems, fruit, or flowers are anthracnose. Cankers on twigs, branches and trunks are caused by certain infections.

Substantial tree pruning sometimes can halt this diseases progression by separating the affected areas and is often used as a treatment.

  • Death of blossoms, leaves and branches showing signs of brownish-black withering are certain signs of Fire Blight. Specimens that appear to be burned by fire may be possibly die from the disease. A picture containing outdoor, grass, tree, plant

Cooper fungicides and heavy pruning of the afflicted areas is often the treatment but ultimately there is no cure for fire blight.

  • Conifers infected by Diplodia Tip Blight will have dead needles at the tips of branches. This blight usually starts on the bottom of the tree and works its’ way toward the top. New needles typically appear stunted, turning yellow and then brown.

Fungicide treatment is a pathogen that Diplodia Tip Blight generally responds to. For most effective control, treatment should be in the spring and cones contain fungal spores and should be removed. This treatment is a control method but is not a cure, and many treatments need be applied before seeing results.

  • Mature oak foliage exhibiting signs of a dark green water-soaked appearance, or becoming very pale green at the leaf tips moving inward is Oak Wilt. This disease overcomes the tree very quickly, starting on 1 branch then the entire canopy of the tree. Often symptoms appear and within 4-6 weeks a Red oak can die.

There is no cure or treatments once the tree is infected. We can assist by professionally removing any infected trees on your property.

  • Yellowing and wilting of leaves on single branches are disease known as Dutch Elm Disease or DED, this is a vascular wilt disease. As the branch dies, the leaves eventually curl up and turn brown.

This disease does not respond to any form of treatment and quickly overcomes the diseased tree, much like oak wilt.

  • This disease presenting itself as irregular or sunken indentions, swollen knots, cracks, discolored bark or dead areas on limbs or trunks of the tree is known as Canker Disease.

If possible, prune out the infected areas to control the spread of the disease but there is no cure. The removal of the infected areas should be done in winter to early spring. Branches 4 inches below the canker should be removed. If the canker is on the trunk reach out to our ISA certified Arborist that have experience in removing & pruning these infected specimens, therefore reducing the chances of further spreading the disease.

Insect Infestations

Boring insects are possibly the most prevalent and persistent tree killers. As adults devour the host’s foliage, larvae feed in galleries beneath the bark, eating the cambium layer of the tree. Overhead pictures of forested areas show the extent of the destruction these insects are capable of causing. Some signs of a boring bug infestation include:

  • Leaf notches or partially devoured foliage.
  • Severe dieback of stems
  • Chlorosis in the canopy
  • Sawdust or Frass left behind by burrowing activity detected on the bark
  • Tree bark exit holes
  • Bulging or vertical breaks in the bark (over larval galleries)
  • Water sprouts and suckers that emerge at the crown, trunk, or roots
  • Squirrel activity; woodpecker damage (woodpeckers eat beetle larvae) (some squirrel species feed on beetle larvae)

Season after season, larvae feed by channeling through the cambium layer of their hosts in a zigzag or ribbon pattern, which disrupts the flow of water and nutrients. This feeding eventually causes the host to become partially or completely girded, which causes hydraulic failure and death.

Prevention and Control of Boring Insects – It’s not always possible to stop a wood-boring insect infestation because the larvae engage in occult feeding behaviors. These procedures will lessen the likelihood of an infestation:

  • Plant tree species that are well-suited to your area and aren’t frequently attacked by wood borers.• To prevent tree stress from things like freeze damage, sunscald, windburn, and other natural stressors, choose and prepare a suitable planting site.
  • Encourage the health of your tree using the right irrigation, mulching, and fertilization techniques.
  • Use proper pruning techniques during the winter or dormant season.
  • Prevent construction and/or lawnmower damage to tree trunks.

Contact one of our certified arborist if you suspect a wood-boring insect infestation so they can confirm it. Such infestations have the potential to quickly result in deadly damages. Note: In the absence of stressed or ailing trees, boring insects will attack healthy specimens.

Life Cycle of Trees

A tree can pass away from “old age,” though it is uncommon. However, what one species views as old age, another may only view as infancy. Oak, Elms, Pecan and Birch trees can live up to 300 years for instance while, others like Birch and Poplar trees average a life span of 50 years.

Extreme dieback, loss of color in foliage, or randomly falling branches are all signs and indicators that your tree is in decline due to age. If you find your trees lifespan is nearing the end, there is little to nothing you can do to save it. When this happens, call on our expertise to evaluate the tree and recommend the best course of action, possibly tree removal. Take note, that most species of trees never reach their full lifespan due to elemental factors such as construction, pollution or weather.

You may help your tree live up to or over its lifespan by taking precautions to stop the spread of disease and insect infestations.

When a tree is sick or in danger of dying and falling on your property, you run the risk of experiencing serious consequences if you disregard the warning indications, that’s why calling our certified arborist to assess the situation is a good idea.