Tree Disease: Types, Causes and Treatment

By: albertaarb - October 11, 2017

Tree Disease: Types, Causes and Treatment


Understanding the Problem of Tree Disease

Tree disease often causes trees to lose their attractive appearance.  More important, however, tree disease can have disastrous effects on both people and property.  Disease weakens trees, and, in some cases, results in broken trees.

Causes of Tree Disease

While there are any number of tree diseases, the most common tree diseases in Alberta are discussed below.  

Canker Disease

Canker disease can occur naturally, when fungus enters the tree between the bark and the wood. However, man-made interactions, such as trees damaged by lawn mowers, lawncare chemicals, and wood eaters, may also lead to canker disease.

Canker disease is commonly identified by the appearance of isolated dead stems, twigs, branches, or areas of the bark of the tree.  Canker disease makes the tree more vulnerable to things which can have a negative impact on a tree, such as other forms of bacteria, fungi, and insect vulnerability.  Canker disease can also compromise the integrity of the tree.

Heart Rot Disease

heart rot disease

Heart rot disease is caused by fungi, which enters the tree through the bark. This fungi softens the tree’s internal structure. Over time, heart rot diseases causes the center of the tree to decay. Evidence of heart rot disease include the presence of fungi, such as mushrooms, around the roots of the trunk of the tree.

Oak Wilt

Oak wilt disease primarily attacks oak trees. Symptoms of oak wilt disease include leaf wilting, leaf discoloration in a rapid fashion, as well as premature defoliation.  Oak wilt occurs when infected beetles burrow through tree roots.


Understanding and recognizing these diseases leads to early treatment.

Cost of Tree Disease

Tree disease is unsightly, but can also be dangerous.  A trusted arborist can evaluate your trees to determine proper diagnosis and the best course of treatment.

Prescription for Tree Disease

Diagnosis is critical and essential to effective tree protection. Homeowners should have the trees examined regularly by a qualified arborist.  Depending on the type of tree disease, treatment may include pruning, application of fertilizers, or use of other chemicals.

Next Steps

If you are concerned a tree has disease, or if you simply want to get a regular maintenance program, contact an experienced arborist and speak with them about your tree needs.

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