Sudden death of black gum tree

Asked August 8, 2019, 6:22 PM EDT

A healthy seeming black gum suddenly had the leaves turn and then fall off this spring. It was about 30 feet tall, had been a lovely tree, though thin. A sister tree, much smaller, died last year. The only damage I could see to the tall one that died this spring was a few very small piles of sawdust at the base. I assumed borers and cut the tree down. However I saw no damage in the trunk except some black lines that were not borer trails and might have possibly been chainsaw burns. (All of this is seen with an untrained eye.) There are very small black spots on upper limbs, but they match a pic of small black button lichens on another page. Now I really don't know what to do with the wood. I have chipped most of the branches and because of the black spots on them plan to take the chips to the dump, but what to do with the rest? and the stump? It was about a 7inch trunk.

Lancaster County Virginia

1 Response

There is a tupelo borer, Aegomorphus morrisii, but it seems unlikely that the populations are normally enough to kill a tree.

It may have also been ambrosia beetles (you may notice toothpick-like" protrusions of frass when these beetles attack.

So are there other black him on your property that you are concerned about?

It seems the question at hand is how to dispose of the rest of the tree trunk. Is it possible for you to burn it? Otherwise perhaps you could cut/stack it and cover it with plastic or a tarp. This may contain any insect pests which may emerge and eventually they will die out, I would give it a year or two before removing tarp/plastic