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Elm Tree Dying

Q: Hello! It is just the end of July and our Elm tree's leaves are turning brown, curling and dropping off the tree. I don't see any pests or any other signs that I've read about.

Do you think it is dying? Is there someway I can tell?


A: It sounds like your elm may have Dutch elm disease (DED). The best way to determine this is through lab-testing, but you can do an in-the-field diagnosis to begin with.

Cut off wilting branches that are about 1/2" in diameter and look at the cut ends. If you see brownish streaking anywhere around the edge just inside the bark, you probably have elm disease.

Again, only a lab-test can confirm this, so you may need to send twig samples to a lab for further investigation.

You might try contacting a tree company in your area to see if they would handle this for you. They may also be able to tell just by looking at the tree if they also think it's DED. If you've seen DED as much as I have, you can usually tell just by looking at the symptoms, but the lab-test is the best way to verify as there are other things, such as squirrels chewing the bark off of a branch, that can cause the same wilting symptoms.

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Arborist Tom Mugridge

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