Even though trees can’t talk, they can tell you a lot. Spring and early Summer are especially good times to “read your trees”. Here are some tree characteristics you’ll want to look for:
Color of the leaves:
- Off color leaves may be an indication a nutrient deficiency in the soil, or they may be a sign that, for some reason, the tree’s root system is incapable of extracting the necessary nutrients, even though the nutrients are present. For instance, iron chlorosis causes progressive yellowing of newly emerging leaves in oaks and other species. Nitrogen deficiency also causes yellowing, but affects the oldest leaves the most.
- Certain trees are susceptible to diseases that cause a distinctive change of leaf color.
- Premature fall coloration during the simmer is generally an indication of a problem below ground that is creating stress conditions for the tree.
An upward curling of the leaf margin – kind of a cupping effect – is the classic symptom of damage from herbicides. Has your lawn, or a neighbor’s, been sprayed for weeds recently?
Distorted leaves may be evidence of sucking insect damage, or the presence of a disease organism.
Thinness of the canopy
Typically, when the uppermost part of the tree’s canopy begins to thin, the condition is characterized as decline. However, decline can have several causes, sometimes acting in combination, that are treatable.
Does your tree look like a telephone pole – that is straight – where it enters the ground, or does it have a natural root flair? The combination of a thin crown and telephone pole appearance usually indicate that the tree’s roots have been covered with fill. Have a professional evaluate the tree’s chances and prescribe treatment.
The combination of thin crown and flat trunk on one side are the symptoms of a root that is literally strangling the tree.
No leaves, or losing leaves
If your favorite tree has failed to produce leaves this season, you have reason to be concerned, especially if you have other trees of the same species in your yard. Sometimes, quick action is required to keep a serious problem from spreading.
If your tree loses all or most of its leaves during the growing season, again, sound the alarms! This may be a sign of a very serious disease or a leaf-eating insect. Either way, trees cannot survive for long if they are repeatedly defoliated.
If you are unsure about your tree’s health, call Urban Forest Tree Care, Inc., who will identify and remove hazards as well as treat the causes of tree health problems.