Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sudden Oak Death - Phytophthora ramorum

Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) - SOD (also known as Phytophthora canker disease), was originally identified in Germany and The Netherlands in the early 1990's on Rhododendrons .  Since being discovered in the United States, it has been confirmed in forests from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  The origin geographically of Phytophthora ramorum is unknown and before the early 1990's there were no reports in Europe or the United States.  The areas that do exist in Europe and the United States are believe to have been originally transported from other areas or even the original site of origin.  Phytophthora ramorum's very limited distribution related to the host's distribution suggests a more recent introduction versus a point of origin.  


Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Two types of disease are caused by Phytophthora ramorum, the first being bark cankers and the second being foliar blights.  Bark cankers may eventually kill the host while foliar blights serve as a reservoir for the pathogen to remain within and be tranferred from the foliar host.  The list of hosts (and foliar hosts) seems to grow with each new report and now includes Coast and Canyon Live Oak, Tanoak, California Black Oak, Coast Redwood, Douglas Fir, Rhododendron, Bay Laurel, California Buckeye, Madrone, Bigleaf Maple, Oregon Myrtle, Toyon, Honeysuckle, Arrowwood, Camellia, Californis Hazelnut, Mountain Laurel, Valley Oak, Poison Oak and Grand Fir.  In lab testing it has been found that both Red and Pin Oaks are susceptible this opens up the potential for spread into the Eastern portions of the US as the Red Oak family is found in most of North America. In the field the White Oak family including the Valley, White and Blue Oaks have not been confirmed as hosts or even shown any symptoms- hopefully this means they are immune to Phytophthora ramorum or at least have a higher tolerance level.



Image Citation: Bruce Moltzan, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

As with many diseases of woody plants the spread of Phytophthora ramorum most likely occurs from contact with foliar hosts, infected material, soil transfer and spreading by rainwater.  Windy, cool and moist conditions are also thought to aide in the spread of the pathogen by further dispersing the spores from their foliar hosts.  Transporting (for nursery sale, wholesale or production) of foliar hosts may also aide in the spread of this disease making it harder to control.  
The symptoms of Sudden Oak Death are easily identified by large cankers on the trunk or main stem, browning of the leaves or even death of the entire plant/tree.  Some infected trees also become host to Bark or Ambrosia Beetles, or Sapwood rotting fungus-these outside organisms may speed up or even contribute to the death of the host.  Foliar host infection os harder to identify and may not be noticed until it is to late.  With a foliar host you may notice deep gray or brown lesions on the leaf blades, vascular tissues, petiole, or stems of the host.

Learn more about Oak trees and their diseases/pests on our Website www.ArundelTreeService.com  or our blog  www.MeetaTree.com 

Monday, November 21, 2016

What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt effects all Oak species, but has different results and signs with each group. Ceratocystis fagacearum is the fungal pathogen that causes Oak Wilt.  It is a vascular disease, meaning the fungus is only found in the outermost xylem of the tree. This fungus is thought to be native of the Eastern US but the problems identifying and isolating it delayed the recognition of the true effects of the fungus until the 1980's.  Oak wilt is a very aggressive disease, currently it is one of the most serious tree related diseases in the Eastern US-killing thousands of Oaks each year in both forest and landscape settings.



Oaks in the Red Oak family- such as Black, Northern Red, Northern Pin and others with pointed edged leaves are particularly susceptible and when infected usually die over the course of a single season-some declining to the point of complete defoliation in a matter of weeks.  Infected Red Oaks will begin wilting from the top of the tree down, the leaves will gradually become bronze in color and fall off of the tree.

Oaks in the White Oak family- such as White, Swamp, Bur, or others with rounded edged leaves are less susceptible to Oak wilt and when infected can live for several years, losing only a few branches each season also from the top down.  Symptoms in White Oaks are very similar to that of the Red Oaks.








The Live Oak however is not so predictable, it's infection level and timeline is effected by many other variables in the environment.  Usually however, Live Oaks infected will die within a six month period from the first sign of decline.  Lives Oaks foliar symptoms differ from those of the Red and White Oak.  An infected Live Oaks leaves will develop chlorotic veins that eventually turn necrotic prior to falling from the tree.

Oak Wilt fungus spreads in two basic ways.  Spores can be transferred from an infected tree to a healthy tree by insect movement or The fungus can move from the roots of an infected tree to those of a healthy tree through root grafts.

Oak Wilt is very similar to Dutch Elm disease but considered to be more controllable.   On good factor to consider is the nitidulid Beetles that carry the Oak Wilt Fungus do not have chewing mouth parts, so in turn would need another creature or a damaged portion of the tree to make the transfer.  This is different from the Beetles that carried Dutch Elm disease, they do have chewing mouth parts and are able to enter any tree without help.

When an Oak has died from Oak Wilt, trees should be chipped and then burned or covered with plastic sheeting to speed composting.  The heat from the chips composting should destroy or severely enervate the fungus.  Logs from infected trees should never be moved to unaffected areas, even for use as firewood.








More at www.ArundelTreeService.com or www.MeetATree.com


Downloadable Oak Wilt fact sheets: 

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev2_043443.pdf

http://na.fs.fed.us/pubs/howtos/ht_oakwilt/identify_prevent_and_control_oak_wilt_print.pdf


Photos sources:
Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org (Photos# 1,3,4,6 & 7)
Forestthreats.org with Google Earth overlay (Photo #2)
Wikipedia (Photo #5)


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Meet A Tree: Devil's Walking Stick -Aralia spinos

Meet A Tree: Devil's Walking Stick -Aralia spinos: The Devil's Walking Stick - Aralia spinosa  is best known for it's prickly trunk, umbrella form, and bi-pinnate or tri-pinnate leav...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meet the Tent Caterpillars

It is that time of year again where those mysterious little tents seem to form in our trees overnight.  Have you ever wondered what they are and what they are doing in there?


Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma) are a mid sized genus in the Moth (Lasiocampidae) family.  There are species found in both North America and Eurasia.  There are thought to be 26 different species (some having many subspecies), 6 of which occur in North America.  They are considered by many to be pest as they have a nasty habit of defoliating trees.  Tent caterpillars are considered to be one of the most social of all caterpillars often developing together within the same tent system. They are not only social but most often very colorful and are easily recognized by their silk tents built within the branches of host trees.  Tent mates are often decided based on the foraging ability of each caterpillar.  The Eastern Tent Caterpillar is the most common of the genus.  Tent caterpillars hatch from their eggs in the early spring at the time the leaves of their host trees are just unfolding.


Image Citation: Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Some species of Tent Caterpillar build one large tent that houses them throughout the larval stages, while others build a series of smaller tents that are abandoned sequentially throughout the stages.  Tent caterpillars establish their tents soon after they eclose. They always make their tents within the nodes and branches of trees in a location that catches the rays of the morning sun.  Positioning of each tent is very critical as the caterpillar must bask in the sun during the early morning hours to elevate their body temperatures.  If their body temperatures dip below 59 degrees farenheit their bodies are not able to perform the simply process of digestion.  Each tent is made up of layers of silk that are separated by gaps, each individual compartment temperature can vary noticeably.  The caterpillar can move between compartments to alter it's body temperature as needed. 


Image Citation: Lacy L. Hyche, Auburn University, Bugwood.org


Tent Caterpillars are foragers searching out food and feeding to the point of repletion, once it has reached that level it returns to it's tent.  Along the way each caterpillar leaves a trail for other tent mates to follow to a good food source.  The chemical trail left behind in often compared to that of the ant or termite.  Their development is greatly in tune with that of their host trees, once the leaves of the host tree reach maturity they are no longer to feed from them.  They feed multiple times a day based on the needs of that level of the larval development.  They often leave the tent in mass, and move together to feeding sites.  


Image Citation: Lacy L. Hyche, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

Caterpillars grow at a very rapid pace and complete their entire larval process in a short 6-8 week period.  Once they leave their tents they find a suitable location (often a protected area on the ground or a structure) to spin their cocoons.  About two weeks after spinning their cocoons they emerge as adults moths.  Shortly after this point the female moth excretes a pheromone attracting a male to her for the purpose of mating.  After mating the eggs are then placed around branches and covered with spumaline, this material prevents the eggs from drying and protects them from parasites.  Once the eggs are laid the female dies.  The cycle of a female moths adult life may only last a short 24 hours while a male can live for a week or more.  Within three weeks of egg laying, small larvae can be identified within each egg mass, these larvae will remain encased within their shells until the following Spring.


Meet more trees and pests on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com  or follow our blog  www.MeetATree.com

Friday, January 22, 2016

Salvaging your trees and shrubs after heavy snow or ice

With what forecasters are calling a possible snow storm of the century just hours from arriving it is a little too late to take those extra steps to prevent possible storm damage to your trees and shrubs.  You can however be prepared for how to handle certain situations that may arise after the storm has passed.  The first thing to remember is DO NOT try to swat, beat, bang or knock heavy snow or ice off of your trees or shrubs.   They may be leaning over or look like they are going to break at any moment but you interefering with Mother Natures "process" will more then likely cause more harm then good, not to mention the risk you take of injuring yourself if the tree should give way and fall on you.....or cause the snow and ice load to fall on you..... It is just not smart either way you look at it so PLEASE don't try it!  In cases of small evergreens (Yews, Junipers, Hemlocks, Leylands, etc) and snow (not ice) you can gently brush snow off ot the limbs with a soft broom to help eliminate some of the weight from its branches, again please wait until after the storm has passed.

Image Citation: Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service

If your trees are damaged remember, trunks, limbs and branches can in some cases be cabled or braced professionally (if the damage is not to severe).  If the damage is too much for cabling or bracing to correct, damaged sections may be able to be cut back to a safe point to save the remaining tree.   In cases of severe damage the entire tree may need to be removed entirely and replaced with a more sturdy option (Remember the right tree right place rule if you are replanting!).  When trying to determine if a tree is worth saving you need to considered not only the extent of the damage but the extent of the possible repairs and the overall value of the tree itself.  If your tree has a small amount of bark that is peeling, ripped or torn after a limb breaks off completely, do not try to cover the wound or repair it.  If it is hanging and pulling on the wound causing further damage, you can cut (with clean sharp trimmers) off just the loose/hanging portion, leaving a small portion loose near the edge of the wound (not cutting tight to the wound) be very careful not to pull or peel anything further from the tree. Trees have a natural process (CODIT) by which they heal themselves.  Covering wounds or interfering during the process could actually prevent this healing process from occurring.

Image Citation: Billy Humphries, Forest Resource Consultants, Inc., Bugwood.org

If your small tree or shrub begins to uproot it may be able to be uprighted and secured with stakes or guy wires.  Keep in mind that if more then 1/3 of the roots are damaged you may be fighting a losing battle.  Do not try to upright large trees, not with your truck, not with a come-along, and never with a ladder (yes we have seen the results of these attempts ad they are not pretty) - if the tree is too large to be lifted by natural human power then contact a professional and let them lead you in the right direction.  

Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Some tree varieties are damaged more often during storms then others because of inherent structural weakness such as weak wood, weak roots or narrow crotch angles, these include but are not limited to Bradford, Cleveland and Aristocrat Pears, Elms, Poplars, Silver Maples and many common evergreens/conifers.  With these types of trees artificial support may be recommended to help prevent crotch or branch splitting or breakage. Of course, it is always best to plan ahead before storms arrive, look up at your trees often to monitor for any changes that may be cause for concern. Remember, trees are living, growing and changing, they require care maintenance and TLC to thrive!  Structural damage caused by wind and ice can usually be prevented by careful and through pruning including removing weak/diseased limbs, or limbs forming narrow crotches.  

You may reach us during an emergency (24/7/365) via email arundeltree@gmail.com or call our office during regular business hours (410)439-1900.  Stay safe if you must venture out during the storm, otherwise stay warm and enjoy the Snow Days to come!

You can always keep busy by reading our blog www.MeetaTree.com or exploring our website for more tree facts and tips!www.ArundelTreeService.com

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What is Mistletoe and can it harm my tree?

Broadleaf Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.) is an evergreen plant that is parasitic in nature, it grows freely on a variety of large landscape trees. Some deciduous host trees of broadleaf mistletoe include Apple, Ash, Birch, Boxelder, Cottonwood, Locust, Maple, Oaks Walnut and Zelkova to name a few. Conifers are not found to often be host of the Broadleaf variety, but can host the dwarf varieties.


Mistletoe plants often develop in rounded form and can reach upwards of two feet in diameter. The plants develop small whitish colored berries that are sticky to the touch. Mistletoe plants are leafy and evergreen becoming most visible in the winter when the deciduous host trees have dropped their leaves. The plants are either female (berry producers) or male (pollen producing only). Many birds feed on the berries and excrete the living seeds which stick to any branch they land on. Older and large trees are often the first to be infested because birds prefer to perch on higher limbs. The down side of this is a heavy build up of mistletoe is most likely to occur in these same larger trees as the birds enjoy feeding on the berries of the mature Mistletoe plants. Often times growths in the upper branches will drop seeds to the lower sections below, spreading the growth even more. Dwarf Mistletoe does not spread in the same way as Broadleaf, instead it's seeds are forcibly discharged from the fruit, dispersing up to 40 feet away.

Image Citation: Paul A. Mistretta, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Once a seed is in place the seed will germinate, during this time it will begin to grow through the bark of the tree and into the tree's water conducting tissues. Within the tissues, structures similar to roots form, they are called haustoria. Haustoria will spread as the parasitic bush grows and spread. Young growths are slow growing and may take years before they bloom for the first time, their succulent stems become woody over time at the base of each growth. Even if an entire visible growth is removed from it's host plant, it will often resprout directly from the haustoria that is embedded into the host. On the other hand dwarf mistletoe is not woody when mature and is segmented with small scale-like leaves.

Image Citation: Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org

Mistletoe can be harmful to a tree that is already weakened but generally does not harm normal, healthy trees. It is possible for individual limbs and branches from healthy trees to become weak or die back. In instances of heavy infestation the entire tree may be stunted, weakened or killed if there are other factors such as disease or drought.

The most effective way to control mistletoe is to remove the infested branches, this will eliminate the haustoria which will prevent re-sprouting. Infested branches must be cut at least 1-2 feet from the base of attachment to be sure you are removing all of the haustoria from the inner tissues of the host. In cases of heavy infestation it may be recommended to remove the entire tree as you can not safely remove more then a portion of the trees crown without causing severe damage or death to the tree itself. If you are not able to prune the tree to eliminate the growth, completely removing the visible mistletoe growth annually will often help limit the spread as only mature growths can produce seeds.

More Cool Tree Facts: www.ArundelTreeService.com or  follow our blog:  www.MeetaTree.com

Friday, November 20, 2015

English Ivy - Hedera helix

Though it is thought to be a beautiful plant by many (myself included), English Ivy- Hedera helix is a very invasive plant in our area and can cause severe damage to properties and even death to the trees it grows on without proper management. English Ivy vines quickly and easily take over areas that are cleared/disturbed, woods lines, brick work, trellises, garden areas, and even tree trunks / canopies. Ivy can decimate the natural ecosystem by girdling out mature trees and other plantings and overtaking native ground coverings. It is native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa and was introduced to the United States by European immigrants. Common uses as an ornamental vine, landscape buffer, ground cover and climbing vine have all made English Ivy very popular. Over the past couple decades English Ivy has spread from a simple ornamental vine to a naturalized (and very invasive) vine in 18 of The Unites States including Maryland.

Image Citation (Ivy): James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

English Ivy is an evergreen vine (one of it's very attractive features) that is a member of the Ginseng family (Araliaceae). It is a creeping or climbing vine that can grown at height of over 90 feet if given the opportunity or structure to adhere too. The leaves are leathery or waxy in appearance, generally having five points in a palmate (hand) shape. They are a deep green in color when young with white veining, lightening in color with age. When mature the leaves produce a pale greenish-yellow flower in the fall season. Once the vine enters a forest it quickly overtakes the native vegetation and prevents them from regenerating, it also interferes with the ecosystem by altering food sources and habitat for wildlife this is by far it's biggest downfall. The vine attaches itself to structures and trees by small hairlike roots, when on a mature tree it can kill it and cause the tree below to die, sometimes rapidly. On brickwork, grouted or mortared surfaces it can easily break through the material causing problems that often times can not be seen due to the vines coverage.

Image Citation (Ivy Infestation) David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The fruit of English Ivy is a black-purple color with three stone textured seeds inside. This fruit is only eaten in small amounts by wildlife as they carry a slight toxicity. When humans ingest the fruits it can cause severe discomfort which is often combined with, diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach, fever, or even the onset of a coma. Rash may also occur in persons with sensitive skin after direct contact with the leaves and/or sap.

Image Citation (Ivy overtaking tree): Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Control of English Ivy is often ongoing and intense. You can manually, mechanically or even chemically remove or address the infestation. With small areas control is much easier, larger more established areas often require a combination of all three methods to truly eliminate the growth. If any roots remain in an area they will likely re-sprout throughout the season. Mulching is another method to help control/eliminate new growth on ground areas, by covering the ivy with a thick layer of mulch continuously over two full growing seasons you can kill the vine. Very large growths often required the use of herbicides often on a continuous basis until the growth is fully eradicated. Tree climbing vines can be cut at ground level prior to applying herbicide to the rooted section of the vine as well as the ground level leaves. Generally the first attempt at controlling or eradicating English Ivy is not successful by any single method.

Yes, it is beautiful but it should never be a recommended planting in landscapes or gardens in our area. If you must have English Ivy in your gardens do so in a container where you can trim it frequently and absolutely prevent the roots from spreading. This type of Ivy is best suited as a houseplant in our area!

Meet more trees and their pests on our website: www.ArundelTreeService.com or follow our blog www.MeetaTree.com