Tree Wellness

Soil Compaction = Not Good for Trees

Soil compaction is a big no-no for trees. When soil is compacted (above left graphic), water and oxygen cannot get to the vital root system of the tree. Water will collect on the surface and evaporate since it is unable to penetrate the soil. Seeing as trees need water and oxygen to live, compacted soil can quickly and severely impact the health of a tree.

New Research: Boxwood Blight Update

If you read my first installment on this relatively new disease, you will know the major difficulty of this pathogen (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is that it infects otherwise healthy plants, and once it is at a site, removal and destruction of the infected plants is recommended, with no plant replacement for 3-5 years.  This is because the spores remain in and on the soil to infect new plants.  Existing asymptomatic plants were to be sprayed with fungicides to help prevent infection.

That "Stuff" Growing on Bark

As Central Ohio moves further into winter, and the majority of deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, bark becomes increasingly visible. Bark is an interesting and important characteristic for trees and tree identification. It doesn’t take long for a novice naturalist to distinguish certain tree species based almost entirely on the bark of a specimen (Beech, Hackberry, River Birch, etc.). Upon further inspection of a tree’s bark an observer might notice organisms growing on the trees bark. A large variety of fungi can be seen on the bark of deadwood in trees and is usually associated with poor health of that particular branch or the entire tree. However, fungi are not the only organism to inhabit the bark of trees.

A Boxwood Bummer

I wanted to dedicate this installment to Boxwood Blight, since this is a disease which has the potential to disrupt formal landscapes all across the state. The disease is fungal, and affects boxwood, especially the cultivated varieties ‘American’ and ‘Suffruticosa’. It is relatively recent in the United States, and was found in Ohio nurseries in 2011.

Don’t get Fooled by the Fall Color of Conifers

Every fall I get calls from folks concerned about yellow needles on their evergreen trees. Often times I’m told that the trees are sick or that they appear to be dying from the inside out. There are some disease and insect problems that can cause yellowing and premature loss of needles in conifers but most often what people are reporting is just normal fall color.

Test Before Treatment: Soil & Tissue Testing

I find it interesting that test procedures recommended in the medical field for human health have become part of the expected methodology, but not so much in arboriculture, for tree health. As arborists, we are trained that a soil test should be done prior to recommending fertilization, for example, but I don’t know of many outfits that make soil sampling a part of their modus operandi.

Fear no Weevil (With Fall Systemic Insecticide)

As we prepare for another season of Fall Tree Wellness, another important insect pest to take note of is the White Pine Weevil. White Pine Weevil is a damaging pest to a broad range of conifers, including White, Scotch, Red and Austrian pine as well as Colorado blue, Norway, and Serbian spruce. Douglas-fir can also be attacked.

Fall Webworm In Full Effect

We’ve received a high volume of calls over the last couple of weeks about “bagworms” in client’s trees. In central Ohio, true bagworm feeds predominantly on evergreens - arborvitae, spruce, and junipers although some deciduous trees can be hosts as well. Generally, this

Verticillium Wilt

It’s hard to miss this disease once we enter the hot dry months of summer.  Without fail, each July/August I start to see trees turning brown and wilting suddenly, usually in patches within the canopy that can be traced back to entire individual limbs that have died.  More dramatically, an entire tree…

Fire Blight is No Delight

This year has been a particularly bad one for fire blight on Pear and Apple trees.  Fire blight is a bacterial disease that affects plants in the Rosaceae family, causing a characteristic blackened wilting of leaves and twigs. This family of plants is also popular for its landscape value, both for flowers and fruit production. Pear, Cherry, Rose, Apple, Serviceberry, Cotoneaster, Hawthorn are just a few trees and shrubs that are very familiar to us. Have you noticed a profusion of dead, blackened leaves in your neighborhood? In your trees?

Watch out Crabapples! Apple Scab is a Major Threat!

Plant diseases love Spring! As temperatures warm and tender new growth emerges, conditions are ideal for pathogens to settle in and take up residence in our favorite trees. It is now when many plants are susceptible and treatable for diseases, such as Dothistroma needle cast of Austrian Pine, Rhizosphaera needle cast of Blue Spruce, rust diseases on hawthorn and pear, and for the purpose of this article: the aesthetically devastating apple scab on flowering crabapple.

Are Your Trees Being Suffocated By Their Own Roots?

More and more trees are growing up in confined urban environments that force their root systems to wrap around the base of the tree causing girdling roots. Girdling roots will block vital nutrients to flow to the tree's canopy which can eventually cause the tree to die. The good news: girdling roots can be fixed if caught early!

Neonicotinoid Use in Ornamental Landscape and Effects on Honeybees

Neonicotinoids are chemical products that are effective in systemic control of insect pests in plants.  Systemic application of insecticide has multiple advantages over other methods, such as topical applications.  When applied systemically, neonicotinoids are absorbed by the plant, and persist for a longer period of time, so that insect pests subsequently feeding on plant parts ingest the chemical and die. 

Because of this mode of action, there has been concern about neonicotinoids persisting long enough to be found in plant products such as nectar or pollen, where they could be ingested by foraging bees.

Poplar Weevil

On Monday, June 11th, TJ shared some leaf samples he had collected in the field. These leaves were marked with feeding damage from a small black insect he also had collected to show us. I had never seen or heard of this critter before that day, but TJ's sharing could not have been more timely. Since then I have had the opportunity to see evidence of plant damage by the Yellow Poplar Weevil from Ostrander to New Albany.

Imprelis damage on pines and spruces

I’ve recently responded to several clients who needed an ISA Certified Arborist to evaluate their trees for Imprelis damage.  In cases like this, it is easy to walk up to a tree such as a  White Pine or a spruce, see the familiar symptoms of Imprelis damage from a distance and make the conclusion that Imprelis was the culprit causing the dead, curled stems at the top of the canopy.  

This is a prime example of having to set aside preconceived ideas about what may be wrong with a tree.  First, the thought of Imprelis has been introduced by the client, which tells me that Imprelis has been in use at the property.  Second, the tree in question is a tree known to be susceptible to Imprelis damage. Third, as I approach the tree the symptoms look like Imprelis.  As an arborist, I have to slow down, set aside the preconceptions, and look closely at the tree, as White Pine Weevil (WPW) is another common problem to pines and spruces that causes symptoms somewhat similar to those caused by Imprelis.

During the past two weeks, I have had the above scenario play out in 3-4 instances, enough times that I thought it worthwhile to write about.  Though the symptoms and the host trees are similar, there are some differences worth pointing out:

  1. With Imprelis damage, the affected tips are usually spread throughout the canopy. With WPW usually only one stem (sometimes more) will be affected, and this will almost always be the top stem in the tree. However, I have seen trees lightly damaged by Imprelis that showed symptoms on only one or two stems, and those were in the top of the tree as well.

  2. Imprelis typically causes unnatural swelling of buds and stems. Not so with WPW.

  3. WPW can cause a distinctive sap flow which can be seen from the ground if present.

  4. If the culprit is WPW, careful inspection will reveal exit holes coming from the damaged stem of the tree. If it is possible to prune the dead tip out to make a close inspection, signs of WPW will be unmistakable if that is the culprit.

I have seen one spruce with light Imprelis damage that also  had WPW.  This needed to be taken into account so both problems could be addressed in the diagnosis.

Moral of the story?  Approach every tree, every client, every person, with a blank slate.  It is easy to look at trees and people with preconceived notions getting in the way of an accurate and fair appraisal, and people, like trees, do not respond well to incorrect treatment.

Your friendly neighborhood arborist, 

 José F.