Japanese black pine tree, dying???

Asked August 10, 2016, 5:45 PM EDT

My 35 ft., 30 year old Japanes black pine needles have been turning brown and falling since late Spring this year. The tips of the branches however are green and look healthy. Had it pruned two years ago. Had an arborist out to look at it and checked for beetle damage and had none. The tree looks unhealthy but was told it could just be a cycle of "sloughing-off". Any thoughts? Would hate to lose it! Thanks!

Multnomah County Oregon urban forestry

1 Response

Thank you for your question. I suspect that the current drought has something to do with the browning on your pine. This year we are seeing a lot of conifer browning and mortality due to three consecutive summers of drought, especially on former pasture land, forest fringes (where trees have more exposure), and compacted, rocky, or shallow soils. When conifers experience moisture stress, they often shed older needles to reduce the surface area of water loss (hence, why there is still new green foliage on your pine). It seems your tree will be fine for now, but just give its soil a good soaking (especially before dry, hot days) and keep an eye on it. If you'd like to read more about drought in the valley this summer, check out this article from the Tree Topics blog. Let me know if you have any further questions.