Hey, Triassic Tree Expert... Is this tree dead?
We have a lot of people ask how to tell if their tree is dead or if it is going to die.
Determining this can be tough and often depends on tree species, location, and what is causing the tree’s decline. The best way to see if a tree or a limb is dead it to cut back a tiny section of bark and see if there is any green. You can start at a branch tip and work your way back until you find some live wood or until you are satisfied the tree is dead.
Many trees show signs of stress by wilting and dropping leaves. This does not necessarily mean the tree is dead or doomed to die but more that it is struggling. Depending on the cause of the stress the tree may or may not recover. With a little help trees can recover from some stressors like mechanical damage, transplanting, and drought. Other causes like many diseases and, in some cases, rot are untreatable and render the tree a hazard that there is no coming back from.
If you have the time and patience (and the tree is not totally dead) the best thing to do is wait until spring and see if it leafs back out and survives. This will depend on what kind of stores the tree has in reserve and how it makes it though dormancy. It is estimated that trees effected by the last drought in Texas will take 6-8 years to gain back the carbohydrate reserves they had prior to the drought and are able to make a full recovery (assuming normal rainfall).
Proper diagnosis and treatment is key to giving your tree the best shot at making it through a rough patch. We’re always happy to answer questions or give your local certified Arborist a call. Here’s a link to find a certified Arborist in your area: http://www.isa-arbor.com/findanarborist/findanarborist.aspx