Anyone Noticing lots of dying Oak Trees?

Tallmom(z7 GA)September 4, 2006

Has anyone else been noticing lots of dead and dying Oak trees around Athens and East Atlanta in the last couple of weeks? I counted 11 as I drove from Athens to the Mall of GA along the backroads via Gravel Springs Rd.

And a wonderful mature Oak behind our subdivision just died seemingly overnight! It is the drought or something else?

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buford(7 NE GA)

There is a lot of building going on behind Mall of Georgia near Gravel Springs Rd, could that be a cause?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 10:21PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

tallmom, I think a lot seemed healthy, but they were actually termite ridden inside. We had some storms and they dropped limbs. Pecans too.
I lost an oak due to termites. We lost a HUGE HUGE oak limb the size of a tree over in Ormewood at our church. It was hit by lightening but seemed to have left the tree healthy. There is another tree (not an oak) on Moreland that has two long strips of bark peeled straight down on it. That was also lightening (the tree will probably be dead by spring). We had two storms with low lightening two weeks ago, and then a week before that. Over in east Atlanta we have a lot of huge 100 year old oaks. They are taller than other trees and prime lightening rods.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 2:19PM
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Or the trees could be dying from multiple years of drought and stress. They don't always die in the year of the drought itself.

I've seen quite a few too, they are quite noticeable this time of year.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 4:12PM
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Tall Mom,
Do you live in Athens? I do, and in our subdivision many white oaks have died. I did some research and they are VERY susceptible to construction disturbance, and consequently they die. There is a lot of construction going on in Athens and Atlanta, so it is probably contributing to the death of these magnificent trees. Also, large old trees are much more fragile than young trees, and react to negative changes more readily than youngsters. So whether it was drought stress or construction damage or some other problem- large trees are delicate and reactive. It makes me very sad to see these trees, that are older than I will ever be, die.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 8:16PM
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nancybea(7b/8a , Athens.)

We chose our building lot partly because of this enormous magnificient white oak on the property. I told my builder over and over to please tell his men to be careful around the tree, however he told me not to worry, that big ol' tree had been there over 200 years and nothing would hurt it. Two years later it was dead. I'm still mourning 3 years later.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 9:34PM
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toothless_willie(8a GA)

Some of these trees may be dying from the causes stated above, but Oak trees also will purposely shed leaves in times of drought to conserve moisture. I have seen Oaks, especially Live and Water Oaks go completely bare in July or August only to leaf out completely the next year. There is a record of this in narrow tree rings for six years during the dust bowl years.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 8:49AM
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I don't go in that direction very often but I remember seeing some on Gravel sprs rd east of 85, near Gravel Sprs Nursery.
What is frustrating about losing something like a white oak or swamp white oak is that very few places sell them to replace them. What is even more disturbing about this trend is that it demonstrates how planting monocultures of Willow oaks (cough cough City of Buford cough cough) can devastate an area if there is a pest or environmental cause for their death.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 9:38AM
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I thought there was disease affecting white oaks in particular. Oak wilt? Sudden oak death? I don't remember. I do remember several years opting not to plant a white oak as a specimen tree because of this.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 12:41PM
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S.O.D. hasn't made it this way yet. It's not exclusive to either the white oak or the white oak group. Could be a number of other things though.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 1:02PM
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I too have noticed a few dead White Oaks in the Buckhead area. While some are located near building sites, others are stand alone trees away from any land disturbances. Most of the trees I have seen dead I would judge to be in the 80-100 year range. All leaves have died but not fallen yet and only White oaks seem to be affected.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 3:26PM
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Ive been told Oak Wilt is making it's way across the country killing Oak Trees by the millions. it has not reached colorado yet according to the tree company I use. He said it is particularly devastating in the South.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 2:31AM
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I have some info. for everyone . Im from eastern Virginia
I own a tree service. This is A update from Virginia Department Of Forestry. VDOF forest health specialest said.The most plausible reason is simply the result of the weather-5 years of drought follow by 2 years of extreme precipitation. The Eastern portion of the state experienced a tremendous amount of rain from Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Gaston. The trees were inundated with water, thereby causing thier roots to rot slowly over the last couple of years. With the onset of hot summer weather with rotten root systems were unable to obtian enough water and simply wilted under stress. Combine this with the advanced age of the affected and you have a formula for mortality.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done to save these trees. By the time symptoms of leaf wilting show up,they are effectivly dead. Many of these trees have become susceptible to other diseases and insects pest-especially the Asian Ambrosia beelte-that attack weakened and dying trees.Although these insects are very wide spread**NOTE BY THE APPEARANCE OF WHITE SAWDUST AT THE BASE OF THE TREE**
there is no evidence to suggest that the primary cause of death is Ambrosia beetles, as some homeowners have been told. Only high stressed trees are being hit by the insect.
For all you tree lovers remove those dead trees and lets get new ones planted. We need our trees!!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 9:40AM
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I am having the same problem, although I think my case may be a local issue. Please see the attached pics, and let me know if anything jumps into mind. Symptom: curled leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: tree pics

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 2:10PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

we are dealing with scale hitting all of our oaks on my street, but no leaves curling. it was here last year, it was treated, it's coming back en force this year, and i dunno what causes it or if it is deadly. i noticed a couple of the black cherries that we let come up randomly around the yard over the past year or two had it as well - looks like a bunch of warts around the tips of the branches, and they flake off like a fish scale if you manipulate them.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 3:33PM
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We live east of Atlanta in Snellville in an older neighborhood where many of us are losing established oak trees. After looking up info on the internet, it honestly looks like oak leaf wilt. This isn't pretty...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Gang - here is my report from the historic area around Marietta Square. We have scads of dying or dead oaks. I know in my neighbor's yard there are 3 huge ones in various states of impending death. The one in the backyard which has mongo limbs that hang over my kids' play area (yikes!) DOES indeed have the tiny holes and sawdust all over the place. My other neighbor has a humongous oak that seems to be dying from some sort of rot from within. The base of the trunk has such a huge void underneath, a small child could hide in it. When you knock on the trunk, it sounds and feels like styrofoam! There is black gunk leaching out from other spots - the big branches split open to allow very weird white blobs of mushroomy things to burst forth and dangle there. Her other VERY large oak leans right over our house. So far, it is healthy, but I worry that the fungal situation could spread through the roots.

By the way - thanks to all who responded to my Sick Tree posting. I think the Slime Flux diagnosis is right on. But the whole thing began with Ambrosia Beetles and was followed by fungus. I'm afraid all the trees in the neighborhood are suffering from the same problems.

I also know we had a "tree guy" come out a few years back. He was one of those cool, funny, granola guys who was very relaxed, very "connected" to the trees! (A great character.....) He said some profound thing about the great old neighborhoods with the great old trees -- but just like our elderly people, the trees have a life span and it's not always as long as we expect.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 10:04PM
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squirrellypete(z7b AL)

We had two tall but not particularly old oak trees I thought were going to be toast two years ago during the drought. They are probably in the 10 year or so range. Leaves curled up and completely shed during the height of the drought. I thought we'd lose them for sure but now two years later they appear green and healthy and back to normal. I know trees can be sensitive to drastic weather changes but perhaps because ours, although established, were still relatively young and better able to bounce back. That's my guess anyway. I too hate to see an old stately tree die, it makes me very sad....unless it's a pine lol. Actually I don't mind pines so much as long as they aren't near the house....too prone to falling over during high winds.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 3:25PM
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I have an 80 year white oak that is dying. I have had the tree people treat it but it looks worse all the time. No construction or disturbance. I believe it is stressed from last summers drought. Unfortunately irreplaceable.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 9:22PM
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I read about this when the droughts first started to become consecutive. They were calling it oak decline at the time. That during droughts the smaller rootlets dry out and the root ball gradually becomes smaller to conserve water (just like their losing leaves). Several years of drought can be devastating, especially when they are followed by short spell of rainy weather and high winds when the roots either rot or the tree just blows over. This stress would also account for their recent vulnerability to disease and insects. I never used to see oaks attacked by borers, now it is common to have to spray them.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:12PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

we have a story, but not involving oaks per se.

40-50yr old sweetgum in the front yard is in the throes of death right now. arborist is supposed to come review this week to see if it's gotta come down.

i've noticed all of our nearby oaks - and we have a lot - are suffering from that scale disease. no matter how many (or # of times) we treat, it comes back year after year. the trees seem to be growing fine, though. hoping this won't eventually kill them.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:43PM
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I noticed all the oaks on a mtn top here in northern Georgia were dying. Unsure of the species. Something is getting under the bark and boring into them. Affecting both young and old trees. Is there really a lack of definitive cause/solution?

Perhaps a boring beetle of some sort? I'm not from the area but it's apparent that left unchecked this is going to wipe out every oak in the area.

One of the trees had a tumor the size of ten basketballs, perhaps from a gall insect? (see link)

The absence of these trees will shed sunlight on the invasive species I saw growing in and around these giants. Good-bye Oak trees.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trees - DYING OAK TREE

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:22PM
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