First Aid for Your Trees, Servicing the Greater Tampa Bay Area

Sick Tree or Dead Tree? When to Call an Arborist

That tree in your yard has been looking a little sluggish and unsightly lately, raising a few questions. Is my tree sick or is the tree dead? How do I tell the difference? Should I call an Arborist? Unfortunately, these are questions many homeowners ask themselves at one point or another. So today, we are going to go over a few of the tell-tale signs that will help you to quickly identify whether your tree is sick or dead.

Symptoms of a Sick Tree

diseased papaya leaves with brown edges
Leatherbrenn darby [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Although there are a variety of illnesses that could be plaguing your trees, and certain tree species are more susceptible to specific types of tree diseases, the symptoms are similar. So, whether your tree is a palm tree or a live oak the symptoms that help you to identify whether or not your tree is sick will be similar. For more information on identifying symptoms and diseases in palm trees read, common palm tree diseases and insect pests.

  • Premature fruit or leaf drop
  • Yellow foliage especially during growing season
  • Holes or brown spots on leaves
  • Sap “bleeding” from the trunk
  • Multiple “pinholes” in the trunk
  • Soft bark
  • Torn or missing roots at the base
  • The presence of saw dust, a powder like substance on the trunk
  • Broken or falling branches

These are few of the most common, and noticeable symptoms of a sick tree. Should you notice any of these symptoms in your tree, contact your local arborist. An arborist can confirm or deny your suspicions, and early detection of sick trees is the first step to saving your trees.

Signs Your Tree is Dead

Determining whether or not your tree is dead, is fairly simple once you know what to look for. A dead tree will not present with just one symptom, or another. If the tree is already dead, all or most, of the following signs and symptoms will be visible on the tree.

  • The dead bark will fall off and leave bare spots on the trunk
  • After leaves prematurely drop, they will not grow back
  • No presence of new buds on the branches
  • Fungus or mushrooms growing on the trunk

If you are still unsure about the health of your tree, a simple scratch test will provide you with a more definitive answer.

Performing a tree scratch test

The scratch test must be administered on the trunk of the tree, and not on a branch. Having a dead tree branch, does not necessarily mean the entire tree is dead; therefore, it is very important that you perform this test on the actual trunk of the tree.
To administer the scratch test, use a fingernail, knife, or other sharp object and scratch off a small strip of bark, try not to go too deep. If the layer beneath the bark is green, then your tree is alive. However, if you should discover that the layer beneath the bark is brown and dry, this is a good sign that the tree is tree.

If your tree is presenting with several, if not all, of the above mention symptoms and the scratch test has revealed a brown dried out tree trunk. Then your tree is dead, and you should contact your local tree removal company.

When to Call an Arborist

Is there a right time to call an arborist? Yes, you should contact your local arborist at the first signs of distress or decline in your tree’s health. Early detection of decline, or health issues, in your tree is the first step to revitalizing and saving your tree. The sooner a health issue is detected, the sooner it can be properly diagnosed and treated to prevent total loss of the tree. Early detection and treatment can also help to prevent any diseases or insect pests from spreading throughout the entire landscape.

So, at the first sign of distress contact the arborist at Tree Medics in Hillsborough County, Tampa right away. We offer affordable, environmentally-friendly treatment options for saving and revitalizing sick trees in your landscape. We have over 30 years of experience and use the most up-to-date scientific methods available to not only treat sick trees but, prevent future re-occurrences and the need for constant intervention.

The health of your trees and landscape matters! So, don’t wait… call (813) 407-9974 or email us at to schedule your tree health care evaluation.

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