eastern red cedar problem

Asked September 18, 2018, 8:31 PM EDT

Hi extension folks, I've attached a pic of one of my eastern red cedars. Can you tell me what is wrong with it and what I can do (if anything) to help it? In the picture you can see the normal growth as well as the problem part. I think it might be blight of some sort. I did cut off some odd growths--round and brown structures--and I wonder if there is/was a connection. Regardless, I would like to help this tree if possible and appreciate anything you can tell me. thanks, Janet

Dakota County Minnesota

4 Responses

In the photo, is the problem the the dense growth at the top?

It looks a bit like it could be witches broom, which is a reaction in plants to an infection. Compare to photos here (or google "witches broom, cedar": http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advi...
What it looks like is over growth in the branches. Usually all you would do is trim out branches if you find them unsightly.

If you trimmed out growths, that leads me to believe that what triggered the witches broom was cedar apple rust. It's harmless in cedar trees, but does look a bit weird. See images here: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advi...

If what I am see is NOT what you're indicating, please let me know and we can keep exploring possible issues.

Thanks Catherine,

Yes, it's the dense growth that is the issue. I looked at the links and I don't think it was rust that precipitated this response. What I found and cut off were brown orb structures on a few limbs. I cut those off (from a couple other cedars too and they seem fine) but this dense growth had already started and has gotten thicker. In a way it looks young, fresh, healthy growth...but it looks weird for sure. I don't know that I can cut it away without making the tree look worse and I don't know how it is going to look as the tree gets bigger...so I am unsure how to proceed! What is your thinking?

Thank you for your patience while I sought out additional advice for you.

It will be iffy if you can restore the tree to it's "proper" form. Rather than pruning out the whole "broom", prune or thin it into a more natural shape and then watch it for further growth. I would watch for additional "orbs" because I suspect that's what caused the initial overgrowth.

Thanks Catherine--I'll give it a try!