What Does an Unhealthy Tree Look Like?

By Nancy Penrose

We all want our trees to be healthy. There are a lot of aspects to keeping your tree healthy and a lot of things to watch out for. It isn’t that hard if you know what to do and what to look out for.

But for some people that’s the hard part. How do you know what to look out for if you aren’t a certified tree care specialist? How do you know when to call a tree care specialist to help save a tree before it’s too late? How do you know when a tree poses a danger and needs to be removed for the safety of all?

We’ll dive into this a bit and cover the different points that you can watch for to know how healthy your trees are and that will give you warning that your tree needs attention.

What does a healthy tree look like?

First let’s quickly cover what a healthy tree looks like for comparison.

A healthy tree will have a single, strong healthy trunk that supports the rest of the branches. The bark is healthy and doesn’t have major bare patches or cracks. The branches are full with leaves that look healthy, meaning they are the proper size, color and shape for that tree in that season. The tree should have constant new growth; you can actually measure this directly by looking at the distance of the tree’s growth from one year to the next. If each of these points can be seen to present, the tree is likely in a healthy state.

What does an unhealthy tree look like?

Let’s now take a closer look at what points can be visually inspected to see if a tree has underlying problems.

Look for cavities and cracks in the trunk, branches and bark. If the bark has large bald spots, large cracks or sections of it are falling off the tree, this is a problem. Large cracks or hollows in the trunk or main branches indicate they are not strong and healthy. Cracked or damaged limbs are a clear danger to people who walk underneath the tree and should be pruned, but they should also be checked into to ensure a bigger problem isn’t being missed.

Cracks in the branches, as covered above, is an indication of the branches being dead or dying. Leaves can be an indication also, and they are an excellent way to tell at a glance if a tree is healthy. If they are off color for the season, have holes, or appear wilted, then this is a problem. If leaves are falling off out of season and a branch doesn’t have a large amount of healthy leaves, then the branch could be dead or dying.

A similar point to look for is the presence of cracks in the soil around the base of the tree. This could be an indication that the tree roots are uplifting. Examine the tree and see if it seems to be leaning. These are indications that the roots of the tree are unhealthy and the tree might fall. If you see this you should absolutely address the matter at once, to save the tree and ensure that no one is harmed by it.

Two more things to watch for are insects and fungus. If there is an infestation of insects (you see insects on the trunk or evidence they’ve been there) then this will likely be a problem. You might see chewed up leaves, insect eggs, or sticky residues. These are a danger to the tree, while also being an indication the tree isn’t healthy.

Mushrooms and fungi growing on a tree are a warning sign. Fungi by their nature feed of off dead tissue, so their presence on the tree indicate that part of the tree is dead or dying. Fast action is needed to save the tree if you see this.

Keeping an eye out for these points will be helpful to ensure any problems with your trees are caught as early as possible. If you aren’t sure what to do about your tree, or you aren’t 100% sure if there’s a problem, it’s best to call in a tree care specialist who can help you identify and remedy what’s going on. That way your tree stays healthy for years to come.

Nancy Penrose is the owner of Big Trees Inc., located in Snohomish, WA in the Seattle area. The company is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Seattle area with over 120,000 trees available in over 300 varieties. They not only deliver young trees, but also mature trees in a wide range of sizes. Some types of trees available include spring flowering, deciduous, evergreen, and privacy trees. The company also does tree transplanting including large trees. Their blog can be seen at https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/ or https://arboristblog.com/. They can be reached at 360-563-2700.

Big Trees Inc.
10928 Springhetti Rd
Snohomish, WA 98296
360-563-2700
https://bigtreesupply.com/blog/
https://arboristblog.com
https://bigtreesupply.com