Black and gnarled leaves

Asked June 11, 2019, 9:10 PM EDT

Hello. I'm pretty sure this is a "volunteer" (sprouted on its own) native pecan. It has had problems ever since it was a Seedling. This is year 5, and it seems to be stunted. shortly after the new leaves come out they start to get withered and twisted looking and get a black tinge to them. I tried a fungicide last year. And removed all of the falling leaves this winter. And scraped back the soil. This year it looks different. Oh also this winter I fertilized it with some nut and fruit tree fertilizer. Does anybody have any idea what might be wrong?

Harris County Texas

4 Responses

That looks much like either herbicide injury or a virus infection. Viruses can't be cured. Did you use a weed and feed fertilizer on the lawn around the tree or any other weed killer? Or, did you spray it with a sprayer that was previously used for weed control products?

If it is herbicide damage it will grow out of it in time. However, seedling pecans usually produce pecan nuts that are inferior to developed varieties, and with our rainy climate, may be disease prone. Recommended varieties for our area are usually quite disease resistant. You can find more about pecans and recommended varieties at the following AgriLife Extension web page:


Thank you for your prompt reply. I apologize for taking so long to answer.
The only thing that was ever sprayed on it was some "Liquid Copper" fungicide last fall, and some natural fungicide made from oils, like peppermint oils called "Dr. Earth Final stop". But these were sprayed after the symptoms.
Last year when it had different symptoms, a couple of articles I read said poor nutrition may make them more susceptible to disease, so I got some Vigoro fruit, nut, and citrus plant spikes and dissolved one in water and applied part of it around the roots once last fall, and this spring before it started budding. I did not apply the entire dissolved spike at once for fear of "burning" it. But I couldn't help but wonder if the second application might have been too rich. But I get the feeling that is not signs of over-fertilizing.
I did not intend to plant a pecan tree, it just sprouted on its own, and it looked like a good place for a tree, so I started caring for it. My neighbor, the owner of the tree's momma, had her topped, so her branches aren't hanging over my yard anymore.

I don't think excess fertilizer is the problem. If you are sure you want to keep this tree give it some time to see if it recovers and resumes normal growth. If not it should be replaced. Avoid using any weed control products in the lawn around it.

Thank you for your help. I thought you would want to know that it would appear the little tree is recovering. I suppose on its own. I gave it another dose of that fungicide several weeks ago. But I'm thinking that this summer has been a little hotter and drier than usual, and fungi seem to prefer a lot of moisture. Maybe the two combined to give the tree an advantage.. This assumes of course that it was a fungus.