Asked May 14, 2020, 11:49 AM EDT

Hi everyone. I have a question regarding my trees. I’ve taken some pictures and the pictures. Ultimately my concern is my willow. It is over 50 years old and now all of a sudden appears to have dead branches. It did get a lot of water last year but I would assume that was good for it. I took pictures of all the trees around the property. It looks like lichen to new but at the base of very young trees they are looking sorta split. I’m hoping to save me willow.

Monroe County Michigan

1 Response

Your first photo is obviously a large willow tree, and I understand you are concerned about it having some dead limbs. Regarding the other two tree trunks in photos 2 and 3, I do not understand your question. So I'll address your willow tree.

Willows (Salix spp.) are fast growing trees and are prone to branch breakage and early death. Dead branches are common and indicate a number of possible problems. To determine the cause, examine the tree more closely. Disease will likely cause yellowing or dropping leaves, while you might notice sawdust or black frass at the base of the tree if insects are the culprits. Or dead branches often occur due just to the age of the tree.

These trees prefer moist conditions, so it is unlikely that was damaged by extra water last year. Lichens on trees are a unique organism because they are actually a symbiotic relationship between two organisms — fungus and algae. The fungus grows on the tree and can collect moisture, which the algae needs. The algae, in return, can create food from the energy of the sun, which feeds the fungus. They generally grow when the environment is healthy and will not harm your trees.

I understand your concern for such an old and graceful tree. Your best resource for diagnosing and treating your tree is to consult a certified arborist. An arborist is a certified and generally insured expert in trees and their problems. He or she can examine your tree and make recommendations regarding the health of the tree, any needed judicial pruning, and whether or not (in his opinion) it should be removed. You can find a certified arborist in your area here:

Click on "Find an Arborist" at the top of the page; then click on United States from the pull-down menu. Then enter your State and City. This should bring up a list of certified arborists nearest to you. Or you may be able to locate one under "Tree Services" in your local Yellow Pages.