Trees are important for out landscapes. They provide beauty, shade and can even improve our homes’ values. However, unhealthy trees can be a problem. That is because dead or dying can pose a risk to people and property. That’s why it is important to know how to tell if a tree is dying.
Here’s How to Tell if a Tree is Dying
You can usually tell if your tree isn’t ‘feeling’ 100%. Perhaps it leafed out late or has fewer leaves than normal. Maybe leaves are browning or branches look frail. When trees are near your home or where your family plays, you want to know if a tree is diseased, dying or dead. Then, you can take the best action to keep your home and family safe.
Diseased or Dead?
Firstly, figure out if your tree is declining or dying. That is, does your tree have a disease that can be treated, or is it on its way out. By catching signs of disease early, you may be able to restore the tree’s health. So, here’s some signs that your tree may have a disease.
1. Oozing Fluid
Is sap flowing from cracks in your tree? Does it look frothy or have a fermented odor? This could be a case of alcoholic slime flux. This condition is caused by common bacteria or fungi that find wounds in a tree and live off the sap.
Alcoholic flux is stress related. Heat stress most likely sets the stage for this problem. To help avoid this problem, use good cultural practices. Watering properly during the growing season as well as during winter is critical. If the tree is in a lawn, be careful not to over water or cause other damage, such as that caused by lawn mowers and string trimmers.Mississippi State University Extension
Trees that commonly develop slime flux include elm, oak, and mulberry. However, maple, birch, butternut, redbud, sycamore, and walnut may also become infected. No treatment is available for slime flux. So, if the tree is otherwise healthy, simply monitor it and reduce stress with proper culture practices.
2. Gray Fungus
Are grey, horse-hoof shaped fungus growing on your tree? This suggests Fomes fomentarius. Also called hoof fungus and tinder fungus is a fungal disease that can infect a number of trees, especially beech and birch. Infections can cause tree death, as the fungus penetrates the wood and causes rot within. As with many tree diseases, prevention is the best medicine. Therefore, proper culture practices including watering, mulching and pruning can protect potential host trees.
3. Brown Spongy Growths at the Base of Oaks
Inonotus dryadeus, know as oak bracket, is a thick brown fungus with fibrous flesh. Most often found at the base of oak trees, it causes white rot and decay of the trunks. Because trees showing signs of infection are likely to fall, it is wise to have them removed as soon as possible.
4. Yellowed Leaves and Slowed Growth
Another possible fungal infection is Armillaria root rot. This infection can take a few seasons to become obvious. However, here are some signs you should look for:
- canopy dieback
- small shoots
- undersized leaves
- discolored foliage
- early autumn color change
Likewise, Armillaria produces mushrooms in late summer and fall at the base of infected trees. These gilled mushrooms grow in dense clusters, are golden tan in color and often have a noticeable white ring on the stem. As this fungus is so common in forest and suburban areas, there is little effective treatment. However, the fungus can be managed by ensuring trees are well-watered, properly pruned and mulched and undamaged.
Dealing with Sick Trees
These are just four common tree diseases, and there are many more possible infections. If you have any concerns about your tree’s health, it is wise to contact a professional arborist. Finally, remember that you can avoid most tree diseases by reduce stress to your tree. You can do this by following a few simple guidelines. First, chose the right tree for your landscape. Second, take care when planting your tree. Third, follow good pruning practices for young trees. Managing your trees in this way, will keep them healthy and help you save money on tree services!
Use the Scratch Test
One of the best ways to find out if a tree is dead is the scratch test. Here’s how to do it. First, using your fingertip or a pocket knife, scratch one of the tree’s twigs. Then, look underneath the bark. If it is moist and green, your tree is alive! However, if it is brown or brittle inspect your tree for signs of ill health:
- Scratch a few more twigs to see if any show gree
- Look around for fungus or mushrooms on the bark or near the base
- See if the bark has cracks, peels or is seeping sap
- Check the canopy for dead or deformed branches
Now that you’ve figured out i
Webster Tree Services
Worried about a tree on your property? Then feel free to chat to our Webster arborist. Our locally-owned and operated Webster tree service offers tree removal and tree pruning throughout Monroe