Ash Tree Damaged by Cold weather

iowa50126(z5IA)May 10, 2005

I have a 50 year old ash tree on the street parking on the SE corner of my yard that is about 80% defoliated.

The tree was green 2 weeks ago but now all the small leaves are shriveled up and lying on my lawn and street. 2 other different variety ash trees not 15 ft away and just as old seem fine.

I called my county extension office and they did not have a definate answer ... other than the the recent cold weather.

I was not alone as the extension office had recieved other calls about trees losing leaves.

Anyone know if the tree will leafout again? Will this kill the tree; not to have a summer of photosynthesis?

Pete in Iowa Falls

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Maude_IA(z5-SE Iowa)

We had a tree long ago under different, but similar (stress) circumstances. A hot, dry wind blew hard all day long during the spring, funneled by other, larger trees, right on the young tree. The new leaves all fell off within a day or two.

Later, the tree leafed out again using the buds that were scheduled to open the following spring. The tree was fine for that summer, but the next year, it had nothing left to use for growth, and died.


My advice is to wait and see what happens. At the worst, you can delay dealing with a dead tree until next year. If I'm wrong (it happens, oh my!) then nothing is lost and you can be relieved that the tree is OK after all.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 7:54PM
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After seeing the damage to my tree, I took a walk around my neighborhood. In about a 8 block area I counted at least 20 more ash trees like mine in the same or worse condition.

All of these trees are 40 to 50 years old and were planted when Dutch Elm disease ripped thru Iowa and elm tree after elm tree was cut and burned.

So, hopefully this tree will make a comeback. It's a mature healthy tree so that's a plus.

I posted this same message over in the tree forum and a member from Illinois said it would be OK.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 9:16PM
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I would start looking for a replacement tree --- not for the reason you may suspect. In general, the ash trees are in trouble and many are starting into a slow decline. Unfortunately, we essentially made the same mistake with ash trees as we did with elm trees by planting too many of one species and not enough variety. When the elm trees died, almost everyone of them was replaced with an ash.

Although ashes are a beautiful tree, they are suffering from an affliction called "ash yellows" or "ash decline". There is no treatment for it but the trees start showing a bit of stunted growth and a few branches, here and there, will start to die. This and the emerald ash borer have decimated the ash trees, particularly in the Detroit area where they compare this problem on a scale to Dutch elm disease. Fortunately, the emerald ash borer has not arrived in Iowa --- yet.

In a simple case of frost bitten leaves, the trees are well prepared for this event. By nature, they have a lot of immature buds called "latent buds" (No, these are not next year's buds, Maude.) just waiting in the wings in case some injury (in this case frost) to replace damaged buds.

It is true that a huge replacement of leaves raises the potential of placing the tree into stressful conditions. The best advice that can be given is just to provide a little extra TLC (mainly water) during the hot, dry days of summer. Unfortunately, for reasons other than frost, you stand a strong chance of eventually losing this tree. I know that our state foresters are advising people not to plant ash trees with much optimism.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 9:24AM
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The tree in question is the responsibility of the city government...if it needs to be cut down. And the city of Iowa Falls has a "Tree Board" to make those decisions...but no money to pay for tree disposal. They also have to approve the tree planted to replace dead trees on street parking easments.

I counted over 15 trees with the same problem in just one of the cities 8 parks.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 3:19PM
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