Chestnut Oaks not doing well

Asked April 24, 2019, 3:47 PM EDT

We lost two Chestnut Oaks last year and this year it appears we will lose more. Many have dead branches and they are not leading out properly. The leaves seem smaller and not “lush” like the other healthier Chestnut Oaks. Last year 3 tree companies told us they are seeing this all over our area of Maryland (AA County). They also told me I will be lucky if any survive. They are not dying from the top down nor are the leaves brown and or curling. Most of last summer these same trees looked “sad” and the leaves looked as if they were very thirsty. However, other Chestnut Oaks in the same area with similar water looked just fine. The two trees we lost last year followed this same pattern. What do you think is happening? It certainly does not follow the pattern of Oak Wilt. Thank you so much.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

5 Responses

We have observed and are aware of the chestnut oak problem, but so far research has not pointed to any culprit. It seems to be environmental, possibly weather extremes, such as droughts followed by abnormally high rainfall years.

It sounds like there are many chestnut oaks in your vicinity and you can identify them. If you observe any significant pattern to which ones die, we would be interested to hear about it.


We actually have observed a pattern. It seems the year before the tree looks wilted and the leaves are not glossy. One or more branches have little or no leaves. The following spring the tree appears to be leading out but this does not seem to be like other, healthier Chestnut Oaks. Rather, it is sparse with more branches having less leaves. The tops seem to have the most leaves (as oppose to Oak Wilt). The leaves appear smaller and lighter in color.. I will attach a picture. It is obvious they are not filling out like the same tree next to them. Last year the trees that died did just this. After leaving out they then just deteriorated.

Is there a pattern to where the affected trees are? For example, home landscapes, highly fertilized or pesticide applied landscapes, slopes, near waterways, etc.


We live on a peninsula on Mill Creek in Annapolis. These trees have been here for so long. Some are in our back yard (sandier soli), some on either side of the house, and one in the front of our house (farther from the water). Some have had leaves raked out beneath them and other the soil hasn’t been touched. Some are on flatter ground and others on hilly or steep ground. No pesticides have been applied (we don’t have grass). The 3 tree companies we had out last year told us they are seeing this all over and we would be lucky to have any live. We are surrounded by Chestnut Oaks!