Redbud lichen and seeds

Asked September 22, 2019, 10:38 AM EDT

We have 2 redbud in our south facing front yard. Both planted about 10 years ago. One tree is covered in lichen and is loaded with seed pods. The leaves are looking stressed, turning yellow early. Any idea what is happening here and what we should do? Because of its placement, the stressed tree is watered less. Might that be an issue? I have included 3 photos. The third is of the healthy tree as a point of comparison

Kent County Michigan

1 Response


Yes, lack of water will make the tree less vigorous and grow slower. The lichen don’t harm the tree but, they can be a symptom of slowed growth because they can more easily attach themselves to slow growing bark. Redbuds want evenly moist soil; irrigate the tree and check the soil 8-12 inches down around the tree to determine if what it received is adequate.

Other things that can affect the vigor of this tree are- restricted root zone- it looks like the tree is mostly surrounded by pavement and foundation.

Exposure- if this tree gets exposed to the cold winter winds more than the other, it can put the tree under more stress year to year.

Most important is to keep the tree watered during dry times when rainfall has been less than 1 inch over a couple weeks.

Keep any grass or plants removed in a 6- 10 foot diameter circle around the trunk and place 3 inches deep of organic mulch, such as shredded wood, in the circle. Keep the mulch pulled back from the trunk 2-3 inches so it doesn’t touch.

It appears the soil around it has recently been disturbed- if any deep digging has happened, there may be some root injury.

You can hire a certified arborist, a professional who has taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and a plant care plan. The root collar at the base of the trunk may need excavating and the compacted soil aerated- she can do that. The arborist can also correctly prune back any ragged branches where possible. Find certified arborists by zip code here—-

Here is the Tree Owners Manual, which shows how to correctly mulch and care for trees which you may find helpful.

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