Thread: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

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  1. #1

    Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    I have noticed that one of my Oak trees has brown leaves on the top half of the tree. I have noticed this change over the past few weeks and I am worried that the tree will die. No other trees show signs like this in my yard. It is a pretty good size tree. I live in Alabama and we have had a pretty bad drought over the past few months. The land (about 1/2 acre) was mostly cleared around the tree for my home about 10 months ago. The photo is taken from the back porch of my home which is about 150 feet or so away from the tree. Is there anything that I can do to keep from losing the tree? I also recently cut down two small pine trees that were very close to the base of this tree. Could that have affected the Oak tree? Please see the picture at the link below. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Central Oklahoma - Zone 7 for now

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    Looks like you *do* have an issue, unfortunately. Drought would affect all the trees (usually), and Oaks tend to be amongst the very last to show 'drying' with their deep tap root and such. Cutting trees near it *should* be uneventful if the soil (& that Oak) was largely undisturbed.

    Its possible (though not highly likely) that a few large roots were busted when clearing around it, but that would take a large amount of energy (dozer/heavy truck/axe/etc). Did that tree suffer a fracture of the 'trunk' somewhere in common with *all* the affected branches? Did the tree suffer damage to the bark (and underlying tissues) within the last year or so? Maybe even a thin deep cut that would interrupt the fluids between roots and those branches? Notice any healed area(s) or such?

    And then there's always the possibility of 'bugs'. Anything wrong with the leaves/bark that you can see? Other similar Oaks in area suffering similarly? Use binocs if needed to see detail as well as ya can...pathologies can be elusive if not right under your nose, literally.

    Oaks are slow to respond to damage, so something might've occurred awhile back. Any memories of anything traumatic to the tree?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    I'm sorry to say you may have a case of SOD, Sudden Oak Death. This is very common in white and red oaks especially. In my town, a prize oak was lost to it, despite efforts to cut off the dying branches to save the rest. Also you see many dead oaks around here of all ages that died for no apparent reason, and it was SOD. I hope yours doesn't die but it doesn't look good

  4. #4

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    Thanks for all the help. It looks like the tree is going to die and I am going to have to cut it down (sob sob). I am going to replant another tree in its place. Any ideas on what type of hardwood might be the fastest growing for my area in central Alabama?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    How about a black walnut, or maybe an ash, or a beautiful magnolia? If it is SOD I wouldn't put another oak there.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Eastern PA

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    Remember: fast growing usually means shorter lifespan and weaker wood (branches falling, tree falling, etc.).

    Fast growing trees definitely have their place - rising up to create forest out of meadow - but they're designed to be on the fringe of things. They fail quickly, but during their reign, sturdier stuff is slowly growing and eventually takes over.

    Just something to consider. It's hard not to want instant gratification and a huge tree quickly, but I console myself that my property will be beautiful in 300 years or so...

    Green Man Enviroscaping LLC

  7. #7

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    What about a Yellow Popular? I hear that they grow fast and well in my area of central Alabama.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Eastern PA

    RE: Brown Leaves on Oak Tree Top

    Poplars in general are famous for their fast growth and infamous for their weak wood.

    The Yellow Poplar - which isn't a poplar at all, nor is it related to the tulip despite another common name of Tuliptree - is actually related to the magnolia.

    It does have very fast growth - a volunteer that planted itself in my yard has grown at least 3' a year, and would have been quicker except the hooved Hoovers came by and ate it 3-4 times in its first year before I got a fence around it. Although I haven't heard of it being particularly weak-wooded, it does self-prune - in other words, limbs tend to fall off.

    It gets big - the tallest native tree east of the Mississippi - so you need to have room for it. If you can handle that and don't mine the stuff it drops, it's an excellent choice.

    Green Man Enviroscaping LLC

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