What killed our Kwanzan Cherry Tree?

Asked April 12, 2019, 10:22 AM EDT

We have a Kwanzan Cherry Tree in back that has not budded out yet, and appears to have died. Our next door neighbors have also recently had a very large and majestic Kwanzan tree die, with no real explanation of why. Years ago, I was told that cherries don’t mix with Roundup. I’m concerned that somehow in my mindless pursuit of weed-free edges I may have gotten some (a light spray) on an exposed root, since cherry trees always find a way to raise one or more of their roots to the surface. Seems hard to imagine that could kill a full grown tree, but that’s all I can figure. There may be another cause that you would know about. Are there borers that attack cherries here in central Maryland? Is there any chance our Yoshino Cherry Trees will get attacked? We also lost a maple in another part of the yard during a long dry spell a couple years back, but that seemed to be obvious, as it was planted over the storm drain concrete culvert and we had not remembered to water it. We moved here 20 years ago, and at that time a smaller Kwanzan cherry was gradually dying in our front yard. Planted by the builder, it was smaller and not shapely, like the one in the back that just died. When we removed it, we observed that the burlap still covered the root ball, and the roots had failed to spread out. As such, the tangled root system seemed to have strangled itself. If you could help us figure this out, we would greatly appreciate it. Especially, if there is a need to treat other trees in the yard/neighborhood. We live in Damascus, MD.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

We may be better able to help with a bit more information.
Did you Kwanzaan look healthy and full last year?
How old is the tree?
Unfortunately ornamental fruit trees are not particularly long-lived in our landscapes like shade trees are. Their useful lifespan is somewhere around 15 to 25 years or so.
That said, last year was a very wet year, and it's possible we could see brown rot disease crop up as it did a few years ago.
Did the leaves hang on the trees or drop? Did they color normally in the fall?

If you could send us a few photos of the tree, both overall and including the lower trunk area, that would help. Photos could be attached directly to this reply using the Choose File tabs below. You can attach three at a time.

In the meantime, take a look at this IPM: Ornamental Fruit Trees publication which lists the many issues they can have, including borers, especially with age: