Is this Oak Wilt Disease or Normal Leaf Drop?
April 6, 2015
Now is the time of year arborists are on the lookout for Oak Wilt disease. This destructive disease can kill a large established oak tree in a single season! However, normal leaf drop in live oaks this time of year can often be confused with oak wilt disease. Live oaks are evergreen trees, but they do push off their old leaves (leaf senescence) and exchange them for new ones in late-winter and early-spring. Leaves might be yellow, discolored or have some brown or black blotches. Most often they are simply a solid tan/brown color. Some trees might drop a few leaves; while others may drop a lot of leaves all at once. But please don’t panic! This is quite normal for the time of year.
Is it Normal?
For normal leaf drop, look closely at the leaves that have dropped and may be discolored:
- You should see new leaf buds forming at the base of the leaf petiole (stem) on the branches of your tree. If these new leaf buds are present, your tree is experiencing normal leaf drop. If there are no new leaf buds present, your tree could be stressed for another reason.
- Check some of the stems on lower branches you can reach and bend or snap some small stems. Check that they are green to greenish-white and that they aren’t completely dried out. While some dead stems and branches are normal on trees, more than about 10% die off could signal a larger problem or disease.
- If the leaves that have dropped have red and yellow veins with blotches of discoloration, then it could be oak wilt disease.
- Oak Wilt can start presenting this time of year so it is best to call an arborist quickly if you suspect the disease.
Concerned your trees could have Oak Wilt disease or some other issue such as a fungal disease or pest infestation? Contact us right away.