Trees are an important and integral part of the landscapes as they provide much-needed shade and beauty to homes throughout the Northeast. They also help filter the air to give our community a fresher and cleaner environment. However, as with all living things, our trees require care, including proper tree trimming and pruning, if they are to stay looking and functioning great for many, many years to come. Oak wilt is one disease that is very harmful to local trees, and that homeowners should be aware of. If a tree is diagnosed with oak wilt, tree removal may be necessary to prevent spread to surrounding trees.
Oak wilt is a lethal disease that every species of oak tree is susceptible to, although trees of the red oak family are particularly at risk. Oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum and has been sighted in at least 21 states, including states throughout the Northeast, like Pennsylvania.
Symptoms of oak wilt generally appear during late spring and early to mid-summer and involve the leaves of the infected tree turning lighter green, tan, and even brown. Within days, the center vein of infected leaves will turn golden in color and then the leaf will curl up on itself before ultimately falling off. An oak tree with this disease can lose its entire canopy within just a couple weeks and, without leaves to bring in needed sustenance, may ultimately die by the end of the season.
Oak wilt is spread in two primary ways. The most common occurs below ground where oak trees share a common root system or have undergone a root grafting. This type of spread may be prevented with special fungicides that kill off the fungus before it has a chance to take root in a particular tree. This method is often chosen for high value trees in communities where other trees have been diagnosed with oak wilt.
In more rural areas, one effective method to limit and suppress the spread of oak wilt is to dig trenches between infected and non-infected trees to remove the likelihood of the disease spreading via root-to-root contact. Unfortunately, while trenching is effective at eradicating local infections of oak wilt, this method can prove impossible in more suburban and urban areas due to obstructions like underground utilities. In such cases, tree removal may be the only option.
The second method by which oak wilt spreads is via certain species of beetles that are attracted to oak tree sap. Trees that are infected with oak wilt will bleed out the fungus in their sap, generally, at areas where branches have been freshly cut, trimmed, or pruned. The beetles will pick that fungus up and transmit it to a nearby oak tree. Having regular tree inspections and talking to a professional arborist before tree trimming and pruning may help reduce the risk of your oak trees being infected by others in this manner.
Oak wilt is one of many diseases that can afflict your trees. If you are concerned about the health of your trees, one of Stein’s tree care professionals will evaluate and determine if treatment is necessary. For more information, or to schedule one of our services, such as tree trimming and pruning or tree removal, contact us today.
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