Why are the ends of oak tree branches dried out and appear dead? Should I be...

Asked June 28, 2019, 5:45 AM EDT

Why are the ends of oak tree branches dried out and appear dead? Should I be concerned about the fate of the tree?

Mahoning County Ohio

3 Responses

Hi -

Do you have cicadas in your area? Do you hear them singing? Most likely, this is the flagging of the trees that happens when the female lays her eggs in the pencil-sized branches of the tree.

Here is a factsheet with some details about this, with pictures of flagging at the bottom of the factsheet:

If this is something else, please let us know. Our clinic is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9am-12pm through October. You can bring a sample and talk to someone during those times. You can drop off a sample anytime, Monday through Friday, 8am-4:30pm. Then, someone will call back to discuss the issue with you.

Thanks for your question!

Yes I definitely did hear them singing, but why does it appear to be only the oak trees?

Hi -

Oak is one of the preferred species of trees. Details on preferred species are in the factsheet I sent. Saying that, there could be other issues. The other possibility would be squirrel damage to the tree, which can cause similar flagging. Squirrels can girdle branches, thus causing this issue. With a sample from one of the 'flags' that fall to the ground, we can tell which issue you are dealing with in your yard.

Thanks, - Eric.