A lot of people are feeling a bit unwell at the moment and it has inspired me to highlight the fact that trees and humans are not all the different in many ways. Just like us trees feed on nutrients, benefit from sunlight and in fact get sick, although unlike humans a tree will not explain to you what’s wrong with it.
You are not expected to act as a doctor for your trees but it is beneficial for you to know some of the telltale signs of an unhealthy or dying tree so you know when to call in an Arborist.
What do I look for?
Take a stroll out into your garden and give your trees a bit of a medical examination.
What you are looking for is often subtle so its best to do this often so you can be aware of small changes.
Un-seasonal leaf changes are usually a symptom to look out for.
- Is it dropping leaves?
- Are its leaves the right colour for the species and time of year? Yellowing leaves is usually a bad sign.
- Are there insects present on the leaves?
- Are there spot on the leaves?
- Is the leaf structure stunted or irregular?
- Are there irregular growths forming on the branches?
- Is it dropping an unusual amount of branches?
- Are its branches looking droopy?
- Dead or dying branches, a few dead branches here and there is normal but if you’re seeing an increase then get it looked at.
- Weak branch unions, keep an eye on the integrity of the branch unions. Simple guide, V shaped forks are bad, U shaped forks are good.
Trunk and Bark
- Is the tree leaning over?
- Is its bark flaking or peeling off uncharacteristically?
- Are cracks or splits present?
- Are there any hollows?
- Are their holes or other animal damage present?
- Is it excreting sap?
It can be difficult to inspect a tree’s roots due to 90% of them being underground but there are still a few things you can look for.
- Has there been earthworks nearby?
- Have any above ground roots experienced injury, eg lawn mower?
- Has the ground under the tree been compacted, eg cars parked on grass below tree?
- Has fill or mulch been piled around base of the tree?
- Is grey water being dispersed around the area?
- Are little sprouts popping up around the base of the tree?
Fungus and disease
- Are there fungus fruiting bodies present on the tree trunk, branches or around the base?
- Is there decay or rotten sections?
- Mushrooms around base.
- Soft, spongey wood.
There are many signs of good and poor health in trees and these can vary greatly but the above is a few of the main points to keep and eye on and if you spot anything suspicious or concerning, contact and arborist to get a professional opinion and correct remedy.