How to Identify Tree Problems

How to Identify Tree Problems
  • Opening Intro -

    Trees form an essential part of a good number of landscapes.

    Trees not only function as fences and windbreakers, but also provide shade, privacy and artistic value to many homes or cottages.


Most often trees planted under less ideal place or environments around already established ones are modified in an unsuitable manner. If the detrimental conditions continue to exist, the health of those particular are often compromised.
When the trees are growing under stressful conditions, they are often more susceptible to pests and diseases. Pest infestations are usually an indication of underlying stress factors or health issues. It is, therefore, essential that you are able to identify tree problems so that you find an appropriate remedy for them.

General conditions:

Pest and disease

You should have well kept records on growing, fruiting and blossoming habits of your trees. As this will be able to show you how a normal growth habit of a given tree really looks like. Stunted growth and poor general health can be an indicator of oak root or crown rot fungus. Inspect leaves of your tree. Look for spots, discoloration or curling along the edges. Nectarine, plum, apricot and peach trees are usually susceptible to peach leaf curl, and the main cause of this is normally fungus and damp weather. Damaged or shrivelled leaves are an indication of apple scab or brown rot, specifically in apple and pear trees, while cedar-apple rust results in brown or yellow spots on leaves.

Leaning tree

If your tree is leaning on one of its sides to some extent, and the soil at its base is raised on the opposite side of its leaning direction, then it is likely that a root failure has occurred. Its root system has an inadequate room to grow because of soil structure or compaction, underground utilities like storm sewage pipes, concrete barriers and subways. Failure in the root system in an already established tree is not repairable; hence the tree has to be removed.

Dead tree

Dead trees are often caused by root fungus (genus Armillaria) causing a disease known as Armillaria root rot. Dead trees can also be caused by other diseases and stresses like Hypoxylon canker, Phytophthora root rot, decline and drought. Initial symptoms include stunted growth, scorched or chlorotic leaves, premature leaf drop, wind-throw, branch dieback and eventual tree death. Confers sometimes produce lots of unusual small cones during the decline. Your trees may also be affected in groups, and after the rainy fall season you may see fungal fruiting bodies on these dead trees.

Crown conditions:

Dieback twigs on tree crown

Inspect your tree branches for dieback twigs. Dead branches are an indication fire blight disease, which is a bacterial disease. The first sign you will notice is the blighting flowers during spring. Then the shoot tips droops and blackens, and finally bending over of these infected twigs. Hence, the infected tree will appear burnt. Susceptible trees include hawthorns, apples, mountain-ash and pears.

Branches conditions:

Cracks on branches

Trees with cracks and splits on the branches can be dangerous during storms. The vertical cracks on your trees may be as a result of several reasons amongst them includes stormy weather and decay.

Trunk conditions:


The presence of a gall or cankers on the main stem or branch indicates fungal disease known as fusiform rust. The gall can be pitch soaked and infrequently exude sap. During the spring season, the gall surface produces orange spores. This disease is most severe on loblolly pine and slash pine, however, on oak tree the only symptoms are leaf spots that are either necrotic or chlorotic. Hence, the main diagnostic traits of this disease on oak trees are the orange spores on the leaf’s underside.

Trunk decay

Check your tree’s bark. Decay causing fungi can attack through lawn mower injury, a broken branch, pruning cuts or any other injuries in a tree trunk. Rotten trunk is structurally weak.

Epicormic shoots

When you notice a tree producing epicormic shoots on its stem, branch or trunk, don’t be worried, it is not an infection. Epicormic buds normally remain dormant underneath the back, as their growth is usually hindered by the hormones at the actively growing shoots of the tree. Therefore, they only develop into active shoots when light levels increases or the higher parts of your tree are damaged. Epicormic shoots occur in several woody trees, but absent in others like the conifers.


All in all it is important to identify tree problems, so that you can take appropriate measures towards controlling that particular problem or in case of a disease, stop it from spreading to other susceptible trees.

The information is provided by professionals in tree care Alberta Arborists. They have over 22 years of experience in providing quality tree and shrub care in Alberta.



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