Japanese lilac--sudden death

Asked June 29, 2017, 12:57 PM EDT

We have three Japanese lilacs. One tree just up and died in May. It had leaves and buds one day and the next time we looked everything had died. It now is a skeleton. The other two are at a distance from the first. But one is developing a droopy branch and a gap in the fulsome ball that has been its shape. We are worried it is on its way out--although going at a very different pace. I can send pictures if it would help. Carolyn Chalmers

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Usually a tree will give a warning if something is amiss - yellowing leaves, drooping branches, wilting, only a portion of the tree affected. Not much causes a tree to be alive one day and dead the next. Here is a good diagnostic website:
https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/japanesetreelilac/index.html

Two things to consider are verticillium wilt and herbicide drift (both are mentioned on the site above):
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/verticillium-wilt/
http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/herbicide-damage/