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Massive tree die off near you?


prairiewindmomma
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We’ve been living through Firmageddon since a massive heatwave a couple of years ago coupled with years of drought. Beetles, root fungi, and other issues are affecting many more species. We have watched as forests burned and landscaping was removed from parks and parking lots. We lost two of our own trees—big huge giants. Literally landscapes are becoming unrecognizable because they are so drastically changed. 
 

Today, though, I saw that one of my favorite Sequoias—a big monster of a tree that dominates the neighborhood because it is visible for blocks and which has a trunk so wide your extended family of 25 could all have a photo in front of it—has died over the course of a month or two. I am just heartbroken. That tree is so ancient….it survived so many things…and now it has died.

I mentioned this to family who lives a few thousand miles away and they are dealing with massive tree die off also.

Anyone else? Is this happening around you?

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We have significant die off of all our Ash trees due to the Emerald Ash-bore beetle.   You can scan the woods and see the dead tree tops.  I hear of another invasive species that targets Maple trees that will likely arrive eventually.  Some of the local woods are made up of over 80% Ash trees so it's a significant die off.

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I'm not sure how I would tell here in Texas.  😉 

I have seen some trees dying in the neighborhood though.  And lots of big limbs just suddenly breaking off and crashing onto the ground and roofs.  

We have a big tree in our back yard with a kinda dead looking top.  I want to get someone to come look at it, but dh doesn't want to spend the money.  It's some kind of oak, I think.  And I know it looked great before the Big Freeze we had here in Texas a couple years ago, but now it just looks straggly.  I didn't know cold weather could kill something that big.   

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Emerald Ash borer had been a beast to the ash trees. Otherwise, for the moment, we are doing okay. I will say our maples which are about 125 years old are looking rough in spots. They aren't dying per se. But there are some limbs that are cracked and branches not producing leaves well, so we need to have them pruned. Asian longhorned beetle is supposed to be on its way and that is going to go after the maples, however we have seen any signs of it yet.

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8 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I saw that one of my favorite Sequoias—a big monster of a tree that dominates the neighborhood because it is visible for blocks and which has a trunk so wide your extended family of 25 could all have a photo in front of it—has died over the course of a month or two. I am just heartbroken. That tree is so ancient….it survived so many things…and now it has died.

I'm so sorry.  The tree may have also been heartbroken.  

We've had a lot of Red Pine die-off in the last 20 years which leaves huge stands of dead and flaking pines.  There is no stopping it and I am always amazed to see any live ones.  There is one live, healthy Red Pine right in town, however, and its closely surrounded by an Oak, Maple, Beech, Apple, and a White Pine - I think each of these other trees is helping protect the Red Pine via the mycorrhizal network.  This is a bit woo but I believe it because I want to 🙂  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-trees-support-each-other-through-a-network-of-fungi/ 

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9 hours ago, Clemsondana said:

We haven't seen anything unusual - just the usual storm damage. 

Same. We've had a lot of storm damage this year. We're on our tree guy's list to come evaluate a huge tree in our back yard that we think has problems, but it's been almost three weeks since we called. He said it would be awhile because they're so busy from storm damage. 

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We lost our elm and ash trees in 2020, both to disease. Many trees in our area have been lost due to wind/weather damage as the roots can't go deep due to the Canadian Shield rock. There isn't much top soil. In the last storm, I saw multiple sites where 6-7 cedars went over together in a big clump devistating large parts of the forest. 

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We have the emerald ash borer as well. We bought my parents an elm this year -it’s resistant to Dutch elm disease. My parents are losing all the blue spruce in their windbreak due to a canker fungus. We finally cut down a beautiful white birch experiencing dieback from an unknown reason, perhaps stress. It is painful to lose trees!

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We have lots of trees. We seem to lose so many. Our neighbors don’t seem to. Over the last few years, our pines have started dying off. We’ve had them taken down. So many. Right now, we have one very large dead pine that needs to come down. I’m sure we will lose the remaining five or six. 
 

That leaves us with many hardwoods, such as maples (red), oak, hickory, and elm. I hope nothing comes along to destroy those. 😞

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We haven't had any issues AFAIK.

If something comes after the loblolly pines, we're toast. We have like 25 of them on our little .3 acres [read: quite capable of smashing into our or neighbors' houses], 40+ feet high, and tree removal is expensive.

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There's a fungus that's killing off palm trees in Florida. The fungus is native but had been mostly in South Florida. In recent years it made its way up the peninsula and even across the panhandle. It affects both planted landscape palms and palms in the wild. There have also been accounts of it in GA and SC. 

Until recently (more on that below) there was no way to test for it. There's no known preventative and no cure. Also, since the fungus lives in the soil you can't plant another palm tree where one was killed by ganoderma. Other trees aren't affected.

A year or so ago researchers at the University of Florida found a way to test for it but it's not cheap and you have to drill into the tree for a sample. For the most part you don't know if your tree has ganoderma until it's too late, not that you can do anything about it if you know early. The danger in not knowing is that it kills the bottom portion of the tree and in a storm these diseased trees can easily fall over. 

In my are it's hit mostly queen palms. They're non-native and ugly but used by developers and cities/counties to line medians because they're cheap. There's one road in my area that was hit particularly hard. As you drive down it you see little piles from where they removed the diseased trees. Other trees in that median are starting to look like they might have it too.

For the tl;dr version of the article below just read the bullet point summary at the top.

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/PP100

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In the Sierra we had drought-stressed Ponderosa Pines killed off by bark beetles in droves a few years back.  They can stand for about 5 years after dying, so I expect a lot of fallen dead trees this year and next year.  Plus, of course, they fuel wildfires while still standing.

The beetles leave a blue/gray residue in the wood that makes it very pretty, but also very soft.  I looked at flooring made from this, and you could indent it easily with a fingernail.  So essentially it’s useless except for fuel, although there are people who try to use it for wall paneling, on the theory that no one will touch it.  (Yeah, right.  Not in this family.)

I’ve read that Sequoias don’t really thrive in cities.  Supposedly they are all gradually dying in that environment, as they need more of an extended ecosystem to survive normally.  It’s just that they get so old that ‘dying young’ still feels like living a long time to us.  This is even more true of Coastal Redwoods, which need ample fog to thrive but can get by for a few decades in the more typical sunny inland areas if watered.  The thing with redwoods and oaks is that they grow fast and vigorously during their early lives, and then slow down later.  At the time of slow down, all of the stressors that they could shrug off earlier start to become more difficult to live through.  That’s when climate or bugs or overwatering (like in lawns) tend to get to them.  

I’m debating whether to put in a canopy tree that will get really big—fig or avocado.  I’ve been going back and forth about this for several years now, and I’m leaning toward doing it.  My magnolia was extraordinarily stressed by the extreme heat last year, and has never fully returned to normal.  I think that it’s not long for this lot.  I think that the ground water receded so much that it couldn’t reach it for a while, despite being at least 40-60 years old.  All of the leaves shriveled up and dried to crunchiness on the tree, which I have never seen before.  Once I noticed this we started giving it some water, but it was definitely damaged.  It’s the only big tree in our back yard so I think it’s really time or past time to plant another one for ‘later’, which seems to be approaching faster than I would have anticipated.

I’ve been watching the chestnut story for quite a long time, and it’s wonderful.  However, we have too many squirrels to ever get nuts from trees around here.  I had an almond tree and they stripped it annually before the nuts were even ripe.  My neighbors never get any walnuts from their trees for the same reason.  Fruit trees work, here, but not nut trees, which is too bad because I would love to have my own walnuts and almonds and chestnuts.

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