Why Is Half of My Tree Dead?

Why Is Half of My Tree Dead?

Half of a tree dying from disease

Your half-dead tree can cause a significant accident or infect the rest of your yard if you are unaware of its cause. By first knowing why your tree is dying, you can take action that may save it from falling and causing significant damage to your property.

toddsmariettatreeservices.com gathered information about the causes and treatments for a tree that is half dead.

My Tree Is Dead on One Side

You may be asking, “How can a tree die on one side?” Several possibilities can lead to this condition, and all of them require immediate action. For deciduous and evergreens alike, consider the following causes and their treatments:

Tree Diseases

Verticillium Wilt – Verticillium wilt is caused by a fungus called Verticillium dahliae or another less common species, Verticillium albo-atrum. This soil-borne fungus germinates when plant or tree roots grow near it, infecting them through wounds or natural openings. The fungus spreads through the host’s vascular system and causes the plant cells to clog themselves. Once the xylem is infected, water can no longer reach the leaves because of the clogging.

Treatment: This disease is challenging to manage because it persists in the soil indefinitely. Infected trees that are not yet dead can sometimes survive the fungus. Dead or affected branches should be removed to help the tree regain its vigor. However, this disease can be transmitted on unsterilized pruning tools.

In cases where an entire side of a tree has succumbed to the disease, the tree should be removed before falling during a storm or unexpectedly.

Fusarium Wilt – Commonly found worldwide, Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen Fusarium oxysporum that enters its host through the roots and interferes with its water-conducting vessels. As the disease spreads into the stems and leaves, it restricts water and nutrient flow, causing the foliage to wilt and turn yellow.

Half of a tree dying from fusarium wilt disease

Treatment: Similar to Verticillium wilt, affected stems and branches should be removed. Fusarium wilt can also be treated with biological fungicides.

Phytophthora Root Rot – Many tree and shrub species are susceptible to Phytophthora root rot, developing root and/or crown rot, mainly if the soil around the base of the plant stays wet for long periods. The leaves of an infected tree will appear drought-stressed and may die quickly in late spring or early summer.

Treatment: You can combat Phytophthora root rot by increasing soil drainage, pruning out affected branches and stems, and by maintaining the root flare of the tree free from soil, mulch, and debris.

These diseases are easily transmitted from one host to the next by overhead watering or splashing, pruning activities with unsterile equipment, and improper disposal of infected clippings.

Environmental Causes of Tree Decline

Soil Compaction – Soil compaction occurs when heavy equipment, machinery, vehicles, or other factors lead to the compression of the soil surrounding a tree. Soil compaction reduces the amount of air, water, and nutrients available to tree and plant roots.

When tree roots on one side of a tree are impacted by soil compaction, an entire side or portion of the tree can wilt and die.

Treatment: Avoid parking, driving, or storing any vehicles or heavy equipment near or under any tree. Once the soil is compacted, a professional tree service should be hired to aerate the soil and monitor the health of the impacted tree.

Lightning – If it doesn’t blow it up, a lightning strike can severely compromise a tree’s vascular system by vaporizing the liquid within it. Depending on the location of the strike and how it travels through the tree, only a portion of it may be impacted.

Half of a tree dying from a lightning strike

Treatment: If you suspect that your tree has been struck by lightning, have a tree hazard assessment performed immediately to assess the need for treatment or removal. Read more about tree hazard assessments at toddsmariettatreeservices.com/why-do-i-need-tree-hazard-assessment/

Surface Root Damage – Due to erosion, poor soil quality, or improper watering, tree roots may surface over time. When these roots are damaged or pruned, they are highly vulnerable to infection by opportunistic diseases like Fusarium, Verticillium, and Phytophthora.

Half of a tree dying from damaged and diseased surface roots

If surface roots on only one side of the root plate become infected, only a portion of the tree will likely display symptoms of infection, decline, or death.

Treatment: If the roots cannot be buried, they should be protected from damage by people or machinery. Once surface roots are damaged, a professional tree service should be called to evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action.

Stem Girdling Roots – Stem girdling roots are dysfunctional roots that circle the stem (trunk), choking off the flow of nutrients and water between the roots and the rest of the tree. They can also compress and weaken the trunk of a tree at the root collar, causing it to lean and lose stability. Trees with stem girdling roots are at a significant risk of declining health, premature death, n and falling suddenly.

Treatment: Stem girdling roots can be removed by using saws or pruners if they have not caused extensive stem compression. If one has caused severe damage, removal treatment must include measures to avoid damaging the stem. These roots are frequently left in place when their removal cannot be performed safely. It may be necessary to consult with a professional tree service to determine what coarse of action to take.

Boring Insect Infestations

Boring insects like beetles can quickly cause the decline of a portion of a tree. As they burrow through the tree’s bark, they will sometimes begin channeling through the xylem and phloem. In other cases, they may burrow into the heartwood of the tree, carrying fungi with them that infect the tree and disturb the flow of water and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the tree.

Half of a tree dying from boring insect infestation

While initial symptoms may only appear on one side of the tree, the tree will eventually succumb and die, as more beetles successfully attack the tree as it weakens.

Treatment: Once a tree has been successfully attacked by beetles, treatment is challenging and will likely result in the removal and destruction of the infected tree. Most treatments for beetles are preventative and include:

• Setting traps
• Treating the bark of un-infested trees
• Removal and disposal of infested trees

However, the most exceptional line of defense for a tree is its health. In the case of insects or diseases, healthy trees can resist infestations and infections. Help your tree by:

• Watering it regularly
• Proper seasonal pruning
• Mulching with organic material
• Fertilizing when necessary
• Having it inspected annually

Read more about tree cutting and pruning at toddsmariettatreeservices.com/right-time-cutting-pruning-emergency-tree-removal/

Half of My Tree is Dead

In this article, you discovered what can cause half of a tree to die and what actions to take to either treat the tree or have it removed.

By taking immediate action when you notice the decline of your tree or a portion of it, you increase the possibility of saving the tree and returning it to a healthy state.

When you ignore the symptoms of disease or infestation, your tree can rapidly decline and die. Trees left untreated are more likely to fall during storms, causing catastrophic damages when landing on property, vehicles, and people.

Sources:
mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/help-diseases/verticillium-wilt
missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/environmental/girdling.aspx
extension.psu.edu/phytophthora-root-rot-on-woody-ornamentals
extension.umn.edu/soil-management-and-health/soil-compaction
ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r280100811.html

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

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

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