Hello there. I was hoping to get some advice from someone regarding a...

Asked May 19, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT

Hello there. I was hoping to get some advice from someone regarding a distressed oak in my yard. I'm thinking it's a white or burr (the leaves have rounded lobes). The tree is perhaps 8 years old and this winter I noticed what I'm calling galls all over many of its branches. Now, there are new leaves coming out on only the bottom half of the tree. Nothing near the crown. Something strange that I noticed last growing season was the tree appeared to put out another year of new growth later in the summer (young leaves emerged twice, once in spring and again in late July early August). So is my tree doomed or is there anything that I can do to help it? Thanks much! Greg Boesel

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

It does sound like your tree is quite distressed. First of all, check to make sure your bumps are actually galls: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/oak/leavesbumps.html
If they are, they are not a problem. They don't hurt the tree. (see http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/insect-and-mite-galls/)

To get new leaves in the summer, the tree must have lost its first batch. This is caused by some kind of stress. Sometimes this is due to heat and/or drought. The tree might have actually been getting plenty of water, but if the roots were girdling and basically strangling the tree it would in effect be not getting any water.

I am most concerned by the lack of leaves on the top of the tree. This shows that something is happening, again such as girdling roots, that is preventing nutrients from reaching the branches. This describes root girdling: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/oak/branchesdead.html

Following this link brings you to "A Practitioner's guide to stem girdling roots of trees" The right side of that page (Table of Contents) has links to all you ever wanted to know about stem girdling, including diagnosis and treatment.

If the tree is not girdled, you may want to call a certified arborist to help.( http://www.isa-arbor.com/findanarborist/arboristsearch.aspx)

Good luck with your tree. I hope it is not doomed, just in need of a little attention.