Dying spruce in Minneapolis

Asked May 29, 2018, 1:48 PM EDT

I live at 5207 11th Ave. in Minneapolis. We have a roughly 35-year-old spruce (white or Norway) in our yard, next to our driveway. It is losing its needles, from the bottom up, while they are still green. The ends of the branches have new growth on them, but the rest of the branch drops its needles. It has progressed very quickly and is already near the top of the tree. It probably started before this year (and we didn't notice it), but this year it has lost nearly all its needles in only a few weeks. I think it might be Rhizosphaera or Stigmina/Mycosphaerella. When I look at the needles with a magnifying glass I see black spots, but they are very tiny. 1. Have we lost the tree? Do we need to have someone look at a specimen? 2. Are there any precautions we need to take to contain it if it is fungus? My husband has training and experience in felling trees and could get help to fell it if necessary. 3. What can we plant there if there is fungus? We'd like it to be native shrubbery, if possible. Thank you! Lesli Anderson 612-845-8585

Hennepin County Minnesota

2 Responses

Spruce trees are susceptible to several kinds of needlecast disease, including those you have mentioned. Some, but not all, can be controlled with fungicides but several years of application at the right time are often needed to overcome these diseases.

Damage to the tree shown in the photo appears to be so severe that control is impractical.

It isn't advisable to plant another spruce (especially a Colorado blue spruce) at or near the same location but native deciduous shrubs will not be affected by whatever is killing the spruce.

Learn more here:

Thank you very much!