Dead Tree with Fungus

Is My Tree Dead?

June 07, 2022

It is important to know the difference between a dead and a diseased tree.  A sick tree can sometimes be saved, but a dead tree needs to be removed.  Sometimes it is obvious that a tree is dying when leaves turn brown in the summer or branches show signs of wood-boring pests.  So how do you determine if a tree is dead, sick, or healthy?  Here are a few signs to help you answer this question.

Fungus Growth

Look at the tree’s trunk and the base of the trunk for any fungus growing.  It indicates that there is inner decay in that area of the tree.  Also, look for discolored areas or depressed places on the bark called cankers or mushrooms growing at the tree base or on the tree itself. 

Bare Branches

Look at the branches of the tree for brown or brittle leaves during the growing season.  In the winter, check to see if the dead leaves still cling to branches instead of dropping to the ground.  Coniferous evergreens will have red, yellow, or brown needles or leaves when dead or dying.  Another indicator is an unusual number of dead branches or wood.

Tree Trunk Damage

Inspect the tree trunk for areas, large or small, where tree bark is absent and no new growth.  It is normal for bark to fall off with new bark growing to replace it.  Check for deep splits in the bark that extends into the wood of the tree.

Damaged Roots

Signs of root damage include thinning foliage, poor yearly growth, yellow undersized leaves, dead branches, and wilted brown leaves during the growing season.  If there has been any recent construction projects or excavation near the tree, watch for any changes in the tree’s health.

Scratch Test

Performing a scratch test is an easy way to tell if a tree is health.  Use a small knife to scratch the outside of several tree branches in different areas.  If the inside is green and moist, the tree is healthy. 

If you see any of these signs, you should contact Integrity Tree Care for an assessment.  We will let you know what actions are needed. Performing regular tree care and maintenance will help ensure that your tree stays healthy.