What You Should Know About Oak Wilt

If you have oak trees on your property, then you can consider yourself lucky. Oak trees are beautiful and they lend a bit of natural elegance to the landscape, which can help to bolster your property’s curb appeal. However, you’ll want to make sure that your oak trees remain healthy throughout the year. They can be prone to certain diseases, such as oak wilt. A professional landscape service can help you prevent oak wilt as well as take steps to deal with it effectively should your oak trees be affected by it.

What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a fungal disease that affects all oak trees; however, they affect the red-black oak group in particular as they are very susceptible and can die a few weeks following infection. The origin of the fungus is unknown, but it’s most common in North America, specifically in the Midwest areas. Oak wilt occurs when the fungus grows into the sapwood of the oak tree, where it plugs the vessels with its own body and spores. If this wasn’t potentially damaging enough, its presence can cause the oak tree to plug its own vessels in an attempt to stop the fungus from spreading. Both of these actions can interfere with the oak’s supply of water, which is what causes the oak to wilt. Eventually, the lack of water will kill the tree.

How to Identify Oak Wilt

In the early stages of the disease, leaves will begin to wither at the top canopy. Entire branches and crown portions will eventually turn a reddish-brown color. If you have red oaks on your property, their leaves will begin to yellow and brown at the margins. If you have white oaks, the leaves tend to have more nondescript symptoms. The disease tends to have the biggest impact on oaks during the summer when a lack of water from rainfall will have an even bigger impact on the infected tree.

Spore-bearing fungal mats can also appear under the desiccating bark of an infected oak. These fungal mats will cause the bark to crack open. Another sign that may indicate the presence of oak wilt is the presence of sapwood streaking.

How to Avoid Oak Wilt

The following are a few tips to keep in mind to help prevent oak wilt from affecting your property’s oak trees:

  • Avoid pruning your oak trees from mid-April to the end of summer.
  • If pruning must be done during the summer or if the bark of the tree is wounded by accident, cover the wounds with tree-wound paint or a latex-based paint.
  • If you’re storing firewood outside, don’t store it near your oak trees. Firewood that was sourced from oak trees that were affected by oak wilt may still contain the fungus.

Hiring a Professional Landscape Service

A professional landscape service can help evaluate your property’s oak trees to determine if they are affected by oak wilt. Unfortunately, there’s no cure. However, a landscape service can help remove the affected tree and make sure that the disease doesn’t spread to other trees on your property. To schedule an appointment for an oak tree inspection, contact us at Twin Oaks Landscape today.