Sudden death of large mature trees

Asked April 24, 2019, 11:05 AM EDT

Two large mature trees died suddenly. In Spring 2018, an 85' 30" diameter oak failed to bud out. Is completely dead. Seemed fine the previous Autumn. This Spring, a 40' dogwood failed to bud out and is completely dead. Seemed fine Autumn of last year. The dogwood is about 20' away from the oak and these two trees are located closer to each other than any other trees. It's expensive to have to remove these large dead trees and sad of course to lose such beautiful, majestic trees. My neighbors and I are concerned about whether there might be a disease or infestation that killed these two trees that could spread to other trees or to trees I plan to plant nearby to replace these trees. Might these trees have the disease Sudden Oak Death caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum? Does MD want to take a look at these dead trees before I have them removed? Any advice before I remove & replace?

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

There is no Sudden Oak Death in Maryland. Nor is there any particular new disease which is killing oaks and dogwoods.

If two completely different species located close to each other died in a short span of time, that suggests an environmental/placement issue. Many plants have died in the past year because their soil was unable to drain fast enough with all the rain we got, and the soil remained sodden, drowning the trees. You may not have seen standing water, but the soil can still be too wet for trees to survive. This is occurring even when trees have been growing well in a location for many years. The water table is still abnormally high in some places. Of course, the drainage patterns on your property may have changed somewhat over the years, too. (We're assuming there has been no other changes in your landscape.) But the biggest culprit has simply been much too much rain over the past two years.

Replant with more moisture-loving trees.