Filbert’s sad, yet quick demise

Asked July 16, 2018, 7:38 PM EDT

This starts out with a weeping cherry (grafted onto cherry). I had this tree for about 18 years. The tree did quite well. Prolific branches and flowers. At about year 10, it shot out a very healthy limb, strait up from the center of the main truck. I let this go for 1-2 years. Wife found it unsightly, cut out the limb. After that I would lose one main limb per year, until at the very end I had a seven inch diameter trunk with one spindly limb. I cut the tree down early spring. Within a month I transplanted the filbert from an area that had gotten very shady (filbert growth was stunted). It did well throughout that transplant year with new limbs beginning to appear. The tree wintered over during this past winter which saw temperatures below normal for a couple of weeks. In early spring the tree appeared to be coming out of stasis with both new buds as well as an exceptional number of “seed fronds” (2-3” inches long). I watered it with a drip line (I don’t think excessively). Within a couple of weeks I noticed that the fronds began drying out. Within a short the the buds dried out. Within three weeks the tree was dead. When I dug it out it looked as though the root ball had literally “dried out”. This made absolutely no sense. The question: is it possible that whatever killed the weeping cherry also infected the filbert? As this point I am hesitant to plant anything in the immediate area of the “killing field”. Should I treat the soil with a herbicide or fungicide? I dug out part of the root and have it sitting in the driveway. Should I test the root with something. The root has been out of the ground for about 90 days+/-. I thank you in advance for your advice concerning this dilemma. I have no photos, sorry! V/r, Roman

Calvert County Maryland abiotic issues trees pest insects and mites

5 Responses

We are glad you asked.
We don't think that the demise of these two trees are at all related.

Ornamental cherry trees are not very long lived. They have a useful life of about 20-25 years. The slow limb dieback is typical of how they go down, often from long-term planting problems including being planted or mulched too deeply, drought, or boring insects. The two plants don't share pathogens that would do that.

The filbert difficulty would likely be a transplanting and establishment problem. Most of it's roots were likely lost in the transplant. How big/old was the shrub and how big was the rootball. Mulched? Are you sure the drip hose water was making it down thru the mulch and soil?
Another possibility is Eastern Filbert Blight which eventually kills filberts in our area.
It could be a combination of the two.


The filbert was at least 15-16 years old, roughly 9-10 feet tall, about a 3-4” trunk at the base. The area it was in had gotten completely shaded and as a result, wasn’t really thriving (but at least it wasn’t dead!). You are correct, the root ball was roughly 2ft in diameter. That is the best that I could do under the circumstances (shovel and wheel barrow, just me, no other assistance). It was not heavily mulched....on a side note. I am one of the few people in MD that mistakenly got a female ginkgo. Looks great, has had numerous saplings (from seeds that it produces). I’ve cultivated one of the saplings as a bonsai, but have since placed it in the yard. It has not yet taken off. Do you recommend moving the “gink” into the location of the cherry/filbert? Look forward to your response. V/r, Roman

You can plant the ginko there if you like. Normally we would say be sure to plan for it's eventual mature size but it is hard to say how it will grow if it has been bonsaied.


“CM” posted a second answer to my filbert question. I just now saw it. He/she mentions Filbert Blight. Is it possible that it could also be a fungus in the immediate area of the dead tree? I have noticed that the grass within three feet of the old weeping cherry/filbert truck is not as green and/or lush as the surrounding area. I have been tempted to treat the area with an anti-fungal lawn application. Is this adviseable? I would like to plant a shrub (I.e. Fortheria) in this location this coming fall or early spring but don’t want to have another “victim” as a result of something sinister in the lawn/dirt.
advice or opinions would be very appreciated!
Sorry for not getting. Back to you soon!

No, do not apply any type of anti-fungal lawn application. Filbert blight is specific to filbert plants and will not be a problem for other plants you install in the same location.