Month: July 2021

Fusiform Rust Identification, Information, and Control

Fusiform rust disease forms galls on pine trees

Prevent your pines from becoming gall-ridden, sick, and dying trees. Knowing how fusiform rust develops and spreads will help you take the necessary steps to keep your trees safe. gathered the following information, ways to identify, and control measures for fusiform rust.

What Is Fusiform Rust

Fusiform rust is a rampant and damaging disease of multiple pine species in the south and southeast. This lethal rust disease is caused by the fungus Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme. For this disease to complete its lifecycle and colonize a pine (Pinus) specimen, it must first find a host in the oak (Quercus) genus. The disease leads to rust galls and/or crippling cankers on pine tree trunks and/or branches.

Some of the more susceptible oak species include:

  • Water (Quercus nigra)
  • Willow (Quercus phellos)
  • Laurel (Quercus laurifolia)
  • Bluejack (Quercus incana)
  • Blackjack (Quercus marilandica)
  • Southern red (Quercus falcata)
Fusiform rust disease requires a tree from the quercus species to continue its lifecycle

While more than 30 pine species are affected by fusiform rust, the two most impacted species include:

Fusiform rust disease easily infects loblolly pines
  • Loblolly (Pinus taeda)
  • Slash (Pinus elliottii)
Fusiform rust disease easily colonizes slash pines

Fusiform rust is indigenous to the Southern States stretching from Maryland south to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas.

Fusiform Rust Identification

The colloquial name of this fungus comes from the spindle-shaped (fusi-form) or tapered galls produced on pines at the infection site. In early spring, powdery, orange spores are produced by the fungus coinciding with the emergence of oak foliage.

In the tree’s weakened state, the following secondary pests may also appear:

  • Black turpentine beetles (Dendroctonus terebrans)
  • Coneworms (Dioryctria spp.)
  • Pitch canker fungus (Fusarium moniliforme var. subglutinans)

Note: The most common way to identify fusiform rust is in early spring, when its galls on pines produce the signature orange, powdery spores.

Fusiform Rust Lifecycle

What makes this pathogen intriguing is that it requires an alternate host (oak) for the fungus to complete its 5-step lifecycle. Consider the following:

  • In March, galls on pine trees produce aeciospores (the orange, powdery spores)
  • The spores are carried by wind to infect emerging oak foliage
  • In late spring or early summer, the oaks produce basidiospores on the underside of the infected foliage
  • The spores formed on oak foliage are then carried by wind to the growing tips of pine trees
  • The lifecycle of this clever pathogen completes as the pines are infected from late spring through early summer

This fungus may be unsightly during its lifecycle, but it does little to no harm to the oak foliage it colonizes.

Fusiform rust disease uses two hosts one oak and one pine species

Note: The annual timing of this entire lifecycle may vary depending on geographic location and when average temperatures are higher.

How Do You Treat Fusiform Rust

Fusiform rust management in a forest or landscape setting poses interesting challenges but can be accomplished over time with patience. Consider the following three control methods:

Oak Host Management – When seasonally appropriate, susceptible oaks (like those listed above) in and immediately adjacent to pine stands should be chemically treated, pruned, and fallen foliage collected and destroyed. Hire a professional tree service to help you suppress potential infections.

Although spores that infect pine species can be transported extremely long distances by wind, nearby infected oaks tend to account for most of the surrounding pine infections.

Pine Host Management – Avoid planting rust susceptible pine species in locations where fusiform rust is or has been an issue. Pruning branch cankers and removing diseased branches can help lower trunk infection potential. However, once the trunk is infected, branch pruning is not recommended. Diseased pine trees are not a direct risk to surrounding healthy ones since spores that infect pines come only from oak leaves.

If you are working with a dense planting site, hire an ISA-certified arborist to help you with sanitation thinning (of infected trees), creating an age-diversified stand, all while avoiding exceeding planting densities which may result in secondary insect infestations and infections.

Pathogen Management – Consider sanitation thinning where you have multiple pines growing. Remove pines with trunk galls and those riddled with branch galls. Pruning pines with multiple branch galls is not preferred or recommended. These pruning activities, when done from February through June, may result in the colonization of these pruning wounds.

Fusiform rust disease control includes sanitation thinning

Stand or specimen burning is not recommended. However, when burning is prescribed, avoid igniting resinous trunk cankers, which will likely end with charring and potential tree death.

Currently, one of the better fusiform rust management methods is prevention. This is best accomplished by planting (naturally or engineered) resistant pine species and treating oaks growing in the vicinity of your pines.

Fusiform Rust – Cronartium Quercuum f. sp. Fusiforme

In this article, you discovered information about fusiform rust, how it is identified, and several control methods.

Understanding the unique way this disease completes its lifecycle and how it is entirely dependent on a secondary host species will help you control it in forest, landscape, nursery, and planting for future harvest.

Neglecting to address fusiform rust will lead to the formation of galls and cankers that can severely weaken the tree, reduce its value for timber, increase wind susceptibility, and cause its death.


Photo credit: Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service,

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Installing Lightning Protection at Arlington National Cemetery

Bartlett Tree Experts recently participated in the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) annual service event. As part of the event, Bartlett installed lightning protection in some of the historic oak trees at Arlington National Cemetery.

lightning protection installation at Arlington National Cemetery

Arborist Climber Eli Swadener installed lightning protection on historic oak at Arlington National Cemetery.

Eli Swadener, an Arborist Climber from Manassas, Virginia, was quoted in an article, “Renewal and Rembrance Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Two Service Locations,” published by the NALP.

Swadener was one of 150 landscape industry professionals who volunteered their time and skills at Arlington National Cemetery on July 19 during NALP’s annual Renewal & Remembrance event. The event is held to honor the men and women buried there. Because his father and grandfather served in the military, Swadener said volunteering at Arlington meant a lot to him. “To be able to contribute and give back is so important and I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” he said.

Swadener installed lightning protection on some of the historic oak trees at Arlington National Cemetery during the event. “A lightning strike can be devastating to a tree in terms of opening up the inner tissue, the heartwood,” he said. “Sometimes it chars but that can result in rot and eventually that could result in structural damage that potentially could lead to it falling from some destructive force later on once it’s weakened. It’s very important for historic trees like this that take hundreds of years to grow.”

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Controlling and Removing Tree Suckers

Stressed maple tree growing a watersprout on its trunk

Prevent your trees from being weakened by suckers and watersprouts stealing their water and nutrients. Knowing how and when to remove tree suckers will help you keep your tree healthy and thriving. gathered the following information about tree sucker and water sprout removal, the damages they cause trees, and how to properly control them.

Removing Tree Suckers

Allowing suckers to remain on your tree will only divert water and nutrients from the vegetative and fruiting wood that needs to grow strong and healthy. Suckers should be removed when they appear, and they will grow very quickly.

Suckers grow from the base of the trunk or from roots and will need to be removed manually. Ideally, they should be pruned back to the point where they emerge from a root or base of the tree. Consider the following:

• Using a hand trowel, expose the sucker to the area where it emerged from the root.

• Snip or cut it off at the base with a sharp pair of garden shears (leave the collar, where the tree sucker meets the tree, to help speed wound recovery)

• Cover the cut area (with soil) and allow it to heal

• Repeat this process for any other suckers

Avoid mowing these growths. Mowing activities can cause abnormal growth, and damaged growth can become a vector for disease and infestation.

Tree sucker growing from root flare

Tip: Leaving a stub can make the problem worse by causing multiple shoots to form. You will need to dig to get to where suckers emerge from roots.

Note: Once suckers start developing on a tree, they will usually continue to occur for the rest of that tree’s life and will need to be removed regularly.

Removing Watersprouts

Watersprouts like suckers are fast-growing and tend to grow vertically, either from the trunk or from an existing branch. They, too, divert water and nutrients from the tree, block sunlight and air circulation. Here’s how to remove them:

• Identify watersprouts as being unnecessary growth to be pruned away

• Use pruning shears to cut them from the tree

• Cut them back to their point of emergence from the trunk/branch (again, leaving the collar, where the watersprout meets the tree, to accelerate wound recovery)

• Allow these wounds to heal like other pruning wounds

Tip: leaving a stub when removing watersprouts can make the problem worse by causing multiple shoots to form.

What Causes Tree Suckers and Watersprouts

When trees are stressed or have suffered trauma, they often respond by producing upright shoots called water sprouts and suckers. Here are some of the occurrences that can cause them to grow:

Watersprouts growing vertically from tree branches

• Root Damage
• Root Loss
• Storm Damage
• Branch Loss
• Topping
• Over/Improper Pruning
• Pruning Suckers
• Disease
• Drought
• Infestation
• Mower/Mechanical Damage

Note: Suckers and watersprouts can be a sign of a tree’s aging. Many trees will sucker as they grow old and start to decay or even die.

Water sprouts and suckers grow from dormant buds in the bark and/or roots and are flimsily attached to trees unless allowed to grow for many seasons.

Tip: Once you detect a problem with suckers and watersprouts, hire an arborist to evaluate the health of your tree(s).

Tree Sucker and Watersprout Control

Watersprouts growing on damaged tree trunk

There are products containing Napthalene Acetic Acid (NAA) labeled to control sprouts on certain trees. Research must still be done on their effectiveness with landscape trees.

Products similar to Bonide’s “Sucker Punch” have a water-based paraffin wax emulsion, so once it is applied, it will last for up to 6 months.

Similarly, some herbicides are effective at controlling and suppressing suckers but are not recommended for all plant or tree varieties. Likewise, herbicides applied to suckers can severely harm the tree. Such products should be applied by a certified arborist.

One of the best ways to prevent water sprouts and suckers on your trees is to keep them as healthy as possible with proper care and pruning. If your trees already have multiple sprouts, do your best to figure out (or call in a professional) to find out what is causing the stress and strategize to correct it.

Tree Suckers and Watersprouts

In this article, you discovered information about tree suckers and watersprouts, what damages they can do to your trees, and how to properly remove them.

Knowing why suckers and watersprouts grow on trees will help you determine if there is more severe damage occurring within the tree or what steps should be taken to increase the tree’s vigor.

Ignoring a problem with watersprouts and suckers can make a troubled tree even further from recovery. As time passes, your tree’s water and nutrients can become severely depleted, leading to more tree problems, infections, infestations, and eventual death.


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Healthy Trees from the Ground Up

Everyone looks up when observing trees. However, you’ll often find arborists looking down! That’s because when it comes to assessing tree health, one of the most critical factors is a healthy root system. Focusing solely on noticeable issues in the canopy, like yellowing leaves, may cause you to miss the culprit responsible for those issues, which is often found below ground.

Common Root and Soil Issues

There are many concerns for tree roots. Disease is often found in the root system. One widespread example is root rot. Trees with root rot may have stunted growth, discolored leaves or dieback, but the real problem lies underground. Another frequent source of injury to the roots is damage from lawnmowers or other yard equipment.  For example, driving over an exposed tree root can result in irreparable harm, making it difficult for the tree to transport water and nutrients from the root system.

Problems also occur when you plant trees too deep or pile too much mulch against the trunk. The root flare, where the roots flare out from the trunk, should be visible. Covering this part of the tree in soil or mulch retains moisture against the trunk, promoting development of disease and hiding conditions like girdling roots.

For trees growing in urban and suburban landscapes, poor growing conditions are commonplace and unlike the ideal conditions found in the forest. Soil often lacks nutrients that growing trees need. Other environmental circumstances, such as compaction, further hinder root and tree growth.

These hidden problems threaten the health of the entire tree and should be treated as soon as possible.

What to Look for

The first thing to look for is the root collar, the transition area between the trunk and roots. There should be a visible flare. A tree should not grow straight from the ground like a telephone pole. If there is no root flare, it’s best to contact a Certified Arborist to discuss next steps. You’ll want to remove excess soil or mulch without damaging roots.

Further, you should to consider the soil. Is it lacking nutrients? Is it compacted? Soil compaction occurs when soil particles are compressed. Causes might include foot traffic, heavy snow or vehicles. When the soil under a tree is compacted, porous spaces in the soil are reduced, making it difficult for roots to extend and absorb water and nutrients. Compacted soil should be tilled and amended with organic matter and nutrients. Address soil issues to improve growing conditions for roots.

An Ideal Solution

Root InvigorationTM is a program designed to repair damaged soils, creating a beneficial growing environment that will encourage root development. The process leverages a supersonic air tool to aerate the soil, without damaging delicate small roots. Next, soil amendments are added to address nutrient deficiencies and increase organic matter content. Addition of biochar can further enhance soil quality. Biochar sequesters carbon and adds vital pore space, improving the soil and increasing plant health.

As a result of Root Invigoration, you can expect renewed growth and health of trees. Treated trees will experience less dieback and have greater pest resistance, a denser canopy, and enhanced color.

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Phytophthora Root Rot Disease

Phytophthora root rot is a disease of many trees and shrubs. The disease derives its name from the Greek language and literally means “plant destroyer.” As such, this is a fitting name for the pathogen, which can kill its host by growing through the roots upward. Phytophthora root rot thrives in wet and poorly drained soil conditions and attacks a wide range of species.

phytophthora root rot on yews

Evidence of phytophthora root rot on yews.

Most Susceptible Tree and Shrubs Species

  • azalea
  • boxwood
  • conifers
  • daphne
  • dogwood
  • holly
  • juniper
  • taxus
  • rhododendron

A soil-borne microorganism, Phytophthora species are more closely related to brown algae than to fungi. Phytophthora root rot grows and produces spores under wet soil conditions. The spores (known as zoospores) have flagella that allow them to easily move through water. First, the zoospores germinate and infect fine roots. When conditions favor development of the pathogen, it will progress into larger roots, the root flare and even into the stem. Consequently, a serious infection that has spread throughout the root system can cause the eventual death of the plant.

Plants with root disease appear as unhealthy; leaves will become yellow and stunted, and new growth slows. Further, the roots of affected plants will be black and shriveled. Symptoms will vary based on the type of tree or shrub impacted.

Preventing and Treating Phytophthora Root Rot

Phytophthora species can persist in the soil for many years, spreading to nearby plants when it rains or plants are watered. With this in mind, it is particularly important to pay attention to the soil conditions in which your trees and shrubs are growing. To further protect your plants, ensure trees and shrubs live in well-drained soils that are amended with organic matter. Additionally, you should carefully monitor irrigation to prevent saturated soil.

Plants exhibiting early stages of root disease may respond well to soil treatments with systemic fungicides and cultural practices. However, plants with later stages of disease are unlikely to recover. Therefore, preventive management is the best course of action. The most essential step to protecting plants from Phytophthora root rot is maintaining good soil drainage.

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Mistakes Homeowners Make When Trimming Their Trees

Here at Red’s Tree Service, we have an expert team to provide tree trimming and selective pruning across Memphis and the Mid-South. Many times, we’re called in to fix someone’s well-meaning attempt at trimming trees. Though we commend a self-starting, can-do attitude, our expert team has seen more than their fair share of tree trimming mistakes from well-meaning homeowners. To help you get the most out of trimming your trees, we’ve put together our list of the 6 biggest mistakes homeowners make when trimming their trees, and what you can do to avoid them! Keep reading to learn more! 

Using dull tools

Just as the most dangerous knife is a dull one, dull tools can be dangerous for you and harmful to the tree. This is the most common mistake we see homeowners make, and it’s also one of the easiest to avoid. It’s as simple as keeping your tools in sharp, trim-ready condition so they can cut through branches and the like with ease. 

Not only can dull tools cause serious injuries to you and those around you, but they can harm the tree as well. Trimming a tree with dull blades creates rough wounds that your tree will have a harder time healing. You may accidentally damage the branch collar if you have to work hard and make several “chops” to cut through a branch.

If you plan on doing your own tree trimming, invest in a good pair of truly sharp shears, and have them sharpened once a year to keep them working well.

Trimming the wrong branches

Proper trimming takes a lot more than just snipping away random branches to change the shape of the tree. If you don’t pay close attention to and plan ahead for which branches you remove, you will weaken the tree, and its shape could become less appealing over time.

Start the trimming process by removing any dead or dying branches. Then remove branches that join the limb or trunk at weak, v-shaped angles. Try to remove thinner, smaller branches, leaving the thicker, more established branches to continue growing. 

Disregarding sanitation

As with most living things, trees are susceptible to a number of different infectious fungi and bacteria. These pathogens are easily spread from tree to tree during pruning if you do not properly sanitize your shears. 

Wipe your shears down with rubbing alcohol between trees, and let them dry completely before you begin trimming another tree.

Proper cleanup is another key component of good sanitation. Don’t let your trimmed branches and leaves sit on the ground beneath the tree, as they could become a harboring point for fungi and insects (and could cause injury to an unsuspecting pedestrian or cyclist). Dispose of the debris in a pile far away from any trees.

Trimming at the wrong time of year

There’s never really a bad time to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches, but the required trimming frequency will vary across plant species. Spring-flowering trees should be trimmed immediately after their blooming cycle, usually during late June, while summer-flowering trees should be trimmed in the winter and spring months. 

Generally, most trees will benefit most from pruning in mid- to late winter. That’s because pruning during dormant periods encourages new growth as soon as the weather begins to warm up. The lack of leaves around this time also allows you to easily identify branches and limbs requiring removal.

While pruning trees in the summer isn’t a popular option, it can sometimes be beneficial if performed with caution. You should never prune in the fall, however. Pruning trees in the fall can introduce disease, and if you have a warm autumn, new growth can be seriously harmed when the temperatures drop again.

In general, pruning your trees in the spring can limit their bloom potential for the year. It can also leave cuts that leave trees more vulnerable to insect infestation or disease. That said, some tree pruning can safely be done in the spring! The rule of thumb is to not remove more than 10% of any tree’s branches. When it comes to spring pruning, your goal should be one of two things: pruning for safety OR minimal pruning for aesthetics. 

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule! If you’ve just planted a new tree, any broken, defective, or damaged limbs should be removed. Just remember that in general, pruning trees in the spring can leave them more vulnerable to infestation and diseases. 

6 Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make When Trimming Their Trees

Not watching for potential property damage

Homeowners should regularly inspect their trees for potentially hazardous developments, including hanging dead limbs or sagging branches. However, be sure to also inspect the area around the hazards, to make sure that your freshly trimmed tree branch doesn’t smash your neighbor’s car or poke a hole in your roof. If property damage is a risk, it’s best to contact a qualified arborist like Red’s Tree Service to remove them as quickly as possible. By taking good care and working with a professional tree management service, you can extend the life of the tree without risking your property.

Sometimes, dead limbs and problem areas can be identified by evaluating the color of the leaves. If leaves on a specific limb are brown, dry, or dead, that’s a good indication that that limb should be preemptively removed. Whenever possible, take preventive measures to anticipate the failure of a healthy tree.

Keeping an eye on how your trees are growing is a great way to head off problems before they develop. Watching for crossed or rubbing branches, false crowns, drooping limbs, and so on will give you a good idea of when trimming is necessary. 

Overlooking structural pruning

Homeowners often overlook the benefits of structural pruning for young trees. Trees evolved in forests where they tend to grow straight and lose lower branches due to competition for light. Many species tend to develop multiple stems/leaders that are more prone to failure when they’re planted in a landscape full of sun. Weak attachments that fail later in the life of the plant are due to the lower branches growing at the same rate as the terminal leader. 

Trimming and pruning trees when they’re young and growing quickly is critical to ensuring a strong framework for future growth. We recommend focusing on maintaining a single dominant stem unless multiple stem clumps are specifically desired. Try to keep branch sizes proportional to the stem diameter at their point of attachment, and be sure to remove some branches to ensure adequate spacing between permanent scaffold limbs as the tree grows. 

6 Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make When Trimming Their Trees

Trust the professionals at Red’s Tree Service

Certain species of trees will require more precise timing and different approaches for proper trimming, and having an experienced arborist like us take care of your trimming needs helps keep you, your property, and your trees safe. 

By using a licensed tree service professional like Red’s, you’re ensuring that a correct pruning and trimming job will be done. This will create and maintain strong tree structures that will look beautiful for years to come. If you have trees you’d like us to inspect or are overdue for a trim, get in touch with us today for a FREE estimate

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