Can my willow tree be saved?

Asked July 16, 2016, 1:12 PM EDT

I moved into my new home in August 2015. There is a willow tree in the yard. One side of the tree was bare, while the other side was flourishing beautifully. The side that was bare was dead. The branches were dry and would break right off, or snap when bent. This spring when it started blooming I noticed a few black charred looking spots up high on the trunk. We thought maybe it was hit by lightning. Now (July) there are more spots on the trunk, and it seems to be spreading. The side of the tree that is still alive looks healthy. I love the tree but am not sure if it can be saved. Any suggestions or thoughts on this? I do have pics to attach. Thank you in advance.

Tippecanoe County Indiana

1 Response

It looks like your tree has a severe case of Black Canker and Willow Scab - both fungal diseases and can lead to the demise of the specimen if not treated in the early stages.

Willow scab
is a disease is caused by fungi that attack the growing leaves, branches and the twigs. It is characterized by olive green spore masses that tend to appear on the veins that are found on the leaves underside. Willow scab can sometimes occur with black canker. Black canker is a serious willow tree disease that is caused by the black canker fungus in combination with the willow scab fungus. It presents itself as dark brown spots on the affected leaves, gray whitish lesions that have black edges and appear on the stem and twigs. It also causes die back, defoliation and death of the affected tree.

Since more than 1/2 of your tree's crown is not producing adequate foliage to support the entire vascular system ... and ... the cankers are large and extensive, I would suggest having this tree removed and replaced with a 'native' specimen that is not in the Salix spp. family.

From the first photo, it appears almost the entire lower trunk does not support outer bark tissue. This tree is dying from the inside outwards. ~DOT