For most of us, we know what a dying flower or plant looks like but we don’t always know what to look for in a tree that may be diseased and/or dying. Are you supposed to look at the bark? The leaves? Roots? All of the above?
To help you make a diagnosis, we’ve gathered a list of the most common tree diseases to help you recognize when your tree needs help:
Heart Rot Disease
As terrible as it sounds, Heart Rot disease infects many deciduous trees (cedar, dogwood, birch and maple) that are improperly pruned and left with broken branches or damaged by fire, animals/insects. Heart Disease is also caused by fungus that has grown on any open wounds.
What to look for: Conk or mushrooms growing on the tree which indicates the presence of fungus.
Powdery Mildew Disease
Trees most likely to suffer from Powdery Mildew disease are catalpa, chokeberry, crabapple and linden – though this mildew is known to attack nearly all vegetation given the right conditions.
What to look for: Leaves with white or gray powdery growth resembling talcum powder.
Equally terrible inside your mouth, Canker Disease is commonly infects pine, poplar, spruce and willow trees. Nectria canker is known to also infect honey locust, maple and oak trees. Phomopsis canker may attack arborvitae, Douglas fir, juniper and Russian olive trees.
What to look for: Blisters on the tree’s bark or branch – much like, well, a canker sore.
Sooty Mold Disease
Victims of Sooty Mold Disease include boxelder, elm, linden and maple trees, though the disease can attack several trees where a feeding insect population is present.
What to look for: Black, powdery coating on leaves and surrounding soil.
Root and Butt Rot Disease
Stop giggling – it’s a thing. Root and Butt Rot Disease can infect hardwood trees at the root and butt (base of the trunk).
What to look for: Black, leathery fungus spreading up the trunk and sometimes the presence of mushrooms in the soil at the base of the tree.
Verticillium Wilt Disease
Verticillium Wilt Disease is a soil-borne disease that is known to attack maple, elm, catalpa and stone fruit trees. Especially problematic, this disease causes tree leaves to turn a lighter color, look disheveled and wilted – and falling from the branches. Verticillium Wilt is highly contagious to other foliage through the soil.
What to look for: Light color and wilted leaves falling prematurely.
These different diseases don’t necessarily mean that your tree will die and will need to come down. Many diseases are treatable once the disease is properly identified. Knowing what to look for in your particular geographic area and purchasing/growing trees that are resistant to any problematic agricultural disease, using the proper fertilizer, monitoring the tree’s light, soil and watering conditions will all help contribute to a long and healthy life for your trees.