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Signs That A Tree Might Be Dying

House with tree in the background

Trees are one of nature’s most precious resources. They beautify the landscape, provide shade, help air circulation, bind the soil together, and provide us with building materials. As a result, it is essential to preserve trees to reap their associated benefits. Trees can live for centuries.

However, in addition to old age, trees may be affected by several factors that cause them to die prematurely, such as insect attack and poisoning. Listed below are the signs you can look out for to determine a dying tree, so you can take necessary action to prevent its death or avoid damage from falling trees.

Reduction in leaf production

Leaves are responsible for manufacturing food for the tree through photosynthesis. When the number of leaves produced by the tree falls significantly, this means that the food-manufacturing capability of the tree has reduced and it may not be sustainable. With less food made, the tree is susceptible to premature death. Therefore, if you observe a reduction in the number of leaves on your tree, contact an arborist for diagnosis and treatment.

Of course, this is unrelated to the typical seasonal events for the tree varieties that lose and then grow their trees each year.

Breaking off of tree branches

It is common to observe a few dead twigs at the base of the tree. However, when the amount of dead wood increases significantly, this can signify that the tree is dying or dead.

Moreover, falling branches can be hazardous to surrounding life forms. Branches falling off can be a result of increased tree brittleness or the presence of pests that are harming the tree.

A small amount of branch falling is typical for many tree varieties, but if the quantity of fallen branches becomes significant this could be cause for concern and further investigation.

If you have a significant amount of branches that need trimming and or removal, Trufas tree services are qualified and experienced arborists who can provide both advice and services, depending on the needs of the situation.

Sawdust on the tree trunk

A previously healthy tree suddenly oozing sawdust indicates the presence of critters living in the tree. You can look for small incisions on the tree trunk, which are the entry points of the insects.

The emerald ash borer is the likely culprit for this problem. By creating tunnels inside the tree, the insect disrupts the water and food circulation of the tree. Essentially, the tree becomes starved and dies when the problem is not addressed at its onset.

 Garden at the back of a house

Growth of mushrooms or fungi on the trunk

Mushrooms and fungi grow in damp places that are rich in organic matter. The presence of mushrooms or fungi on a tree can signify that the tree is rotting. Depending on the extent of the damage, the tree can either be saved or left to die.

Pay attention to the moisture level of the overall environment, because the mushrooms may be thriving due to the climate itself, not necessarily the tree.

But either way, if you notice mushrooms or fungi on a tree, inspect it further so you can make a more informed assessment.

Black lesions on the leaves

Similar to the growth of mushrooms on the tree, the appearance of black lesions on the leaves can indicate a fungi problem. However, contrary to mushrooms, the problem is not as severe. The issue can be resolved by simply reducing the amount of water that the tree is exposed to and improving air circulation by pruning the tree. Application of chemicals is only recommended in severe cases such as complete lesion coverage on the leaf and severe loss of leaves.

Large cracks or wounds on the tree trunk

Trees are resilient to injury for the most part. However, large wounds such as those caused by lightning strikes or heavy collisions can cause significant structural damage to the tree and this can be hard for the tree to recover from. Large cracks on the trunk or torn branches that do not heal can signify that the tree is dying.

Damaged roots

Roots are vital for the tree as they are used in acquiring water and nutrients. When the roots incur significant damage, their function is impacted, thus leading to fewer nutrients and water being absorbed by the tree.

Determining root damage can be difficult, especially with underground roots. However, suppose you’ve had significant excavation around your compound. In that case, pay attention to subtle signs that signify root damage, such as poor annual tree growth, diminishing foliage, and wilting and yellow leaves.

Final thoughts

Similar to other living organisms, trees give clear indications that they are unwell or dying. These include excessive shedding of leaves, cracked trunk, fungi growth, and sawdust production. Addressing these symptoms at their onset is key to finding a solution and saving the tree. When you observe any of these symptoms, immediately consult an arborist to determine if the tree can be saved. Trees take a very long time to grow and serve us and the ecosystem in many ways. Therefore, we must protect them to continue reaping their benefits.