How to Tell if a Tree is Dead or Dying

Are you concerned that a certain tree in your yard may be a rotting hazard? This is a valid preoccupation, as infected, unhealthy Arborist Tree Inspection how to tell if a tree is dead or dyingtrees are more likely to fall during inclement weather. Read on to discover the clues that your tree is sick and/or dying. If you spot these signs on your tree(s), call us. We can dispatch a professional arborist to help with tree healing or removal.

Five Signs of Dying, Unhealthy Trees

A visual inspection can tell you a lot about the health of your trees. Lack of leaves or a reduction in the amount of leaves in one area of the tree can be a sign that something is wrong. The same is true for open wounds or soft spots. Also look for signs of fungus or rot. Finally, notice any cracks or cracking in the bark. If the tree shows structural problems, such as branches splitting apart, there’s a good chance disease has taken hold.

A quick mnemonic device for inspecting trees is to look for “The three D’s.” Arborists look for tree tissue that is Damaged, Diseased, or Dead. If you find any of these symptoms it might be best to call a professional to figure out the cause of the problem and what you can do to solve it.

1) The Twig Test

If there are broken branches around the tree, this would be a sign that the tree, or at least branch(es) are dead. Even if there is no stick debris around the tree, you can learn a lot from inspecting a twig or branch.

You can break the twig to see how it feels. If the wood is green the tissue is still alive. You can also use your pruning shears to scratch the bark off and inspect the wood. If the wood is dark and brittle, it is dead. However, once you check one twig you might consider looking around and inspecting different parts of the tree to determine its overall health.

When you are done performing the twig test, remember to cleanly cut off any branches you have broken off. You don’t want to attract more diseases and pests by leaving broken branches behind. In addition, you are going to want remove damaged, diseased, or dead wood as quickly as possible. We suggest calling for professional tree removal. Portland homeowners generally lack the in-depth knowledge required to effectively heal or remove diseased trees.

2) Trunk Inspection

Some trees like sycamores have shedding bark but most trees do not. If there is bark falling off the tree, then this would be a sign that the tree is dead or dying.

Does the trunk have rot, fungus, or mushrooms growing on it. This would also be a sign that the tree is possibly in decay.

Lastly, are there openings, splits or other damage to the main trunk area that indicate that the tree may not recover? Trees can heal themselves but not from wounds that are overly large. Most likely, the tree will eventually die from infection and rot if it is severely damaged.

3) Infection Check

Tree threats include infection from tree diseases, insect pests, and old age. As an example, in the Pacific Northwest, the fungus anthracnose can be a problem, as it thrives in the wet weather, and its spores spread in the wind. This disease causes discoloration in the leaves, and there may be some defoliation as well, especially if the tree is stressed. In addition to hardwood trees such as sycamores and oaks, Pacific Northwest Dogwoods and Japanese Maples are susceptible to anthracnose. This is just one of dozens of potential diseases that could be attacking your trees. For an accurate diagnosis of a diseased or dying tree, it’s best to call the “tree doctor” (i.e., a professional arborist).

4) Root Area Inspection

Look around the base of the tree. Are some roots protruding unnaturally? Has the tree been partially blown over by wind? Has there been construction/digging in the area that may have severed a portion of the root system?

Damage to the root system either by weather, or man made will weaken the tree. If it is severe enough, the entire tree might die, but sometimes only part of the tree will die while some other branches will survive.

5) Old Age

Age can’t be helped and some trees live longer than others. Some ornamental fruit trees may only have a life expectancy of twenty-five to thirty years, while trees such as Giant Sequoia and Douglas Fir may live for hundreds of years. An old tree will succumb to disease and pests more easily.

If you have a short lived tree, knowing it’s age could help understand what is going on if your tree is displaying signs of weakness.

Call for Help

The average person is only going to be able to do so much. You can certainly work on controlling the cultural conditions to a certain degree, and you can always perform a visual inspection. If you have the proper tools and training, a certain amount of pruning and ground level maintenance is possible. But a tree care professional or arborist is going to know more about why a tree or shrub might be sick or dying, and they will be educated about the proper way to handle the problem. Finally, our professional arborists can inform you on how to improve the soil and other environmental conditions. Don’t put yourself (literally) “out on a limb” flailing at a job that is too large to handle yourself.

Give Urban Forest Pros a call to discuss your tree problems and concerns. You can count on us for responsible Portland tree removal services, and we always put safety first. In addition, we will acquire any necessary city permits for tree removal. The bottom line is that you can trust our arborists to remove dead and diseased trees safely and responsibly.

' ); $( ".site-footer" ).before( '
Book OnlineCall Us
' ); $('.page-id-95 #secondary').each(function() { $(this).insertBefore( $(this).prev('.page-id-95 #primary') ); }); });