Spot These 4 sick Tree Symptoms This Fall

By: albertaarb - July 29, 2015

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons, sandwiched comfortably between the heat of summer and the frost of winter. Many people enjoy walking in nature to watch the leaves fall and see animals preparing for winter. However, if you have trees, you need to keep an eye out for any signs of sickness in your trees before it’s too late.

The identification of tree and shrub diseases is crucial because, although most diseases can be controlled, there are some diseases that cannot.

There are many different diseases that can impact trees, and most are specific to a particular species of tree. If you are trying to control an arboreal disease, you should consider consulting a local arborist who can identify the disease and advise you what treatments are available.

Leaf damage

Anthracnose is a disease of hardwood trees, like American sycamores, dogwoods, black walnuts and white oaks. Common symptoms include discoloured blotches or dead areas on the leaves, also known as leaf blight, and the tree may even lose its leaves, which is called defoliation.

Anthracnose won't kill a tree, but repeated defoliation can weaken the tree and leave it open to other diseases. Defoliation can be harder to spot during Fall, so keep your eyes peeled for any lesions or dead spots on leaves.


If a tree develops any kind of fungal growth, you need to take prompt action. “A tree with fungal fruiting structures on several limbs, the trunk, butt, or roots should be removed promptly if it is in a location where property damage may occur or people or pets could be struck by falling limbs or the falling tree.

If most of the tree appears healthy, any single branches with fungal fruiting structures should be removed promptly, regardless of the identity of the fungus present.” Depending on what kind of fungi you have, it can cause root rot, kill limbs, or weaken the tree enough to fall.

Root decay

Root decay, or root rot, is another common cause of disease or death in trees. Trees that have root issue can get blown over in wind or even fall over without warning under the weight of its leaves. If the roots are broken or there is evidence of fungus, you may have a case of root decay.

Unfortunately, if that is the case, states: “Effective treatments for curing established root diseases in trees are unknown…” but there are treatments of varying effectiveness, including crown crowd reduction: “by pruning and fertilization can prolong the life of diseased trees by reducing the transpirational demand on ailing root systems and promoting overall tree vigor.”


A canker can be a sign of a devastating tree disease, the chestnut blight fungus, which has nearly wiped out the American chestnut. These fungus spores infect fresh wounds in the bark, creating a canker that resembles an orange curled horn. To date, no cure for chestunut blight has been found, but research is ongoing.

If you allow your trees to get sick and do not treat them, it could have disastrous results, according to “Some diseases have had such an impact that they've caused the loss of an entire species of trees. Dutch Elm Disease (DED) devastated the American Elm population.”

We Can Help You Diagnose Tree Diseases 

While Alberta Arborists prefers not to use pesticides for the treatment of diseases or insect infestations. We can professinally diagnosis your trees pest and disease problems and then recommend the appropriate course of action required. If the use of pesticides are still needed, we can refer you to a local licensed company that can provide you with this service. 

Feel free to contact us if you have more questions about symptoms of tree diseases


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