24/7 in the Ottawa area

24/7 in the Ottawa area

24/7 in the Ottawa area

Common Signs of Illness in Trees

Feb 2, 2021

Ottawa Tree Risks Diagnosis

How to identify them and act fast

Did you know that trees can get sick, too? You may have suspected that your tree is ill or isn’t growing correctly, but perhaps you aren’t quite sure how to proceed with taking care of it, or maybe you are unaware of whether or not you should have it professionally removed. This educational article will inform readers on what signs to look out for that could indicate their tree health is a need for concern.

Read More: 7 Reasons You Need Emergency Tree Removal Services

Weak or dead branches

Bare branches during the seasons when leaves should be abundant are the biggest identifying factor in tree health. In less-obvious seasons such as the dead of winter, discarded leaves should be on the ground as a healthy tree would shed them. An unhealthy tree, however, allows the dead leaves to cling to their branches.


Tree decay usually exposes obvious signs of dying trees that are difficult to miss. Leaves will fail to appear in the spring, and large areas of bark disappear from the trunk. The tree also seems thirsty, with branches that dry over time and become infested with holes from wood-boring pests.

Tree bark abnormalities

Peeling bark is another sign that your tree has a how to tell if a tree is diseased or is in poor health. Your tree’s bark can give away a lot of health information regarding your tree, as it protects the core of the trunk and keeps the tree healthy. Excessive peeling tree bark disease means that the tree may not maintain the necessary nutrients and could die. While it is normal for many trees to experience small amounts of peeling bark, larger and more frequent peels are something to worry about, especially if internal fibres are being exposed. Contact your local arborist or tree-removal expert to run a diagnostic on your tree’s health and determine the best treatment or removal process for your ailing tree.

Read More: Tree Removal Prep

Large cracks in the tree trunk

Like the bark, the tree’s trunk, the root of its structure, gives a lot away about the tree’s health. The bark should be continuous without deep cracks or holes, so when these imperfections are present, it could mean the tree is dying, or branches can break. Another factor is areas of smooth wood where the bark has fallen off. In healthy trees, new bark would grow in its place.

Lack of foliage

Similar to healthy branches, along with those branches, should come an abundance of foliage. Healthy trees enjoy full leaf coverage in summer and spring. During growth seasons (other than winter), your tree should have leaves on its branches. If your tree is no longer producing leaves at all, its leaves have browned out, or the leaves have thinned out in a small section of the tree canopy, this may be a sign of tree disease. Clinging leaves during the dead season is also a sign that your tree is struggling to flourish.

Discoloured or rusted leaves

Along with decreased growth, rusty-coloured leaves that are yellow or brown are often signs of tree disease root rot and other tree diseases bark peeling. This is often accompanied by branches dying and excessive fungus in the soil, which is a fast-track way to deteriorate your tree.


As mentioned above, the fungus is a tree killer. When fungus or strange fungus-like growths collect on the trunk or branch of a tree, this can indicate that your tree is experiencing internal rot and anything beyond the fungus may be dead or dying. Call a professional tree company to investigate the issue and advise on potential treatment.

Seeping fluid

Is your tree sap wet? Is there fluid coming out of it? This means your tree sap is bleeding, which means there is a problem. It is most likely due to bacterial wetwood. This does not usually kill the tree until its bacteria is formed. Once this happens, a grey-brown foamy liquid called slime flux is formed, indicating that it’s time to remove your tree.

Pests (termites, leaf beetles, wood wasps, stem borers)

A sudden increase in pests also means infestation. You may find webbing nests, chewed leaves, fallen healthy leaves, defoliated branches, larvae actively consuming foliage, mottled foliage, and other disasters that indicate hidden infestations under leaves or throughout the tree.  To get rid of these, consult with a professional company to measure your options for a safe and risk-free approach to pest control. You don’t want them travelling across your yard and going into your house.

Growing lopsided or leaning

A tree that grows unevenly, lopsided or far-leaning may indicate a sign of damage. If branches grow too close together, they may not anchor firmly to the trunk. The bark that grows in between the branches creates a weak, unhealthy bond, which can cause complications to the tree.

Root rot

Root rot is another common sign of tree illness. This is a critical sign as the tree’s roots are important to absorb water and nutrients so it can grow and flourish. Root rotting is likely caused by a fungal infection that has entered into the roots, and can be identified by wilted or yellowish leaves in summer. Skillfully prune the tree to prevent its spread, and consult with a professional service to treat the soil to control the fungus infection.

Soil changes around the tree

If your tree seems as though it is suffering, then look at its soil. Usually, the soil surrounding your tree can provide clues about its health. Bone-dry or cracked soil means that your tree may be thirsty for water. Waterlogged and compressed soil indicates that the earth may not be strong enough to hold the tree in position. The tree may even start to lean slightly. Soil disturbance, such as excavation, can greatly damage the roots and even destabilize the tree. Raising the soil around the tree trunk and roots can suffocate the root system as tree roots need oxygenated soil to grow. If you are going to undertake either of these methods, consult with professionals for the job to be done correctly.

How to prevent illness in trees? Contact a professional tree company

This is a great reason to contact your tree removal company, as they can potentially save your ailing tree before it is too far gone. When a tree needs to be removed, the process is worth it for the help of your surrounding landscape, but it is a lot of work, especially if debris is leftover or the tree in question is extremely large and cannot easily be removed.

Read More: What to Look for in a Tree Removal Company

If your tree has any of the above symptoms, contact a reputable company to help you. The longer you put it off, the more damaged the tree and your environment can get. We cannot stress enough that leaving a sick tree unchecked can also fatally damage the surrounding land and, in some cases – entire tree populations. Contact us at Green Thumb today.

We take pride in offering our professional Tree Care services in Ottawa. Feel free to reach out to Green Thumb Tree Specialist for any of the following Tree Services:-