I have a 40 year old (when I transplanted it) Pin Oak tree that suddenly...

Asked August 15, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

I have a 40 year old (when I transplanted it) Pin Oak tree that suddenly died! The leaves came out, then turned brown and fell off. There are only a few brown leaves left on it. What could cause the tree to die so suddenly? Is my second tree (same age) in danger? I see some dead branches on it, but there are lots of healthy leaves at present.

Montgomery County Maryland trees and shrubs pin oak browned out

1 Response

Although the symptoms sometimes appear within a short period of time, your mature pin oak tree has been under some form of stress for several years. The past winter did not help, of course. It would be helpful to know when the leaves began to brown out. Your description suggests that it was early in the spring, but if the leaves were there on the fourth of July, the tree should survive. It would be appropriate for you to have a certified arborist or two or three give you an assessment. In order to find a list of certified arborists in your area, go to www.treesaregood.org.
If the tree leafs out in the spring, it may help to give the tree a deep root feeding at that time.
If, on the other hand, the tree browned out immediately after leafing out in the spring, the problem is more serious. You should examine the tree carefully for any signs of boring insects or cankers on the trunk.
Many times, a tree will suffer acute stress when there is trauma to the root zone. This could include nearby construction that would either invade the root zone or change the drainage pattern in the root zone. Soil compaction caused by excessive foot traffic or parking vehicles or storing heavy materials near the tree can suffocate the roots. Adding soil over the root zone can also suffocate the roots and result in canopy dieback.