Is my tree sick?

Asked May 24, 2020, 1:57 PM EDT

Hello, We have a young Scarlet Oak tree that we planted last year with Friends of Trees. It seemed to be growing well and then we noticed this spring as it started to get new leaves that it started to slump over at the top and also get these weird markings on some of the leaves. Friends of Trees had no advice to offer. Here are some pictures to show you what we are seeing. Is the tree sick? Do you have any advice on how to help it? Thank you so much for any guidance.

Multnomah County Oregon

6 Responses

Thank you for the images. Your oak has one of two different look-a-like conditions: Oak Leaf Blister, a fungus disease, or Oak Leaf Blister Mite caused by microscopic mites much smaller than the spider mites you may be familiar with.

In order to differentiate between the two, please send a well-focused image of the underside of an affected leaf when you reply to this email.

I look forward to receiving your image(s).

Here is the underside of the leaf. Let me know if it is not clear enough. We were also very concerned about the top of the tree being bent over the way that it is. If you could comment on that as well, I would so appreciate it. Thank you for your speedy response.

Thank you for the additional image.The tree has oak leaf blister mites. Although their damage is may be considered unsightly, it doesn't affect the health of the tree. No treatment is recommended.

The top of the tree is bent over because the load of new leaves is too heavy for such a spindly stem. Perhaps the tree was grown in too shady a site.

You can reduce the load on the stem by thinning out the end growth. I'll consult with a colleague to ask how you might proceed.

It appears that the tree is tied to the support stakes with either a wire or cord. That should be changed to a wide stretchable tie, perhaps a section of old hose (but without a wide inside), a strip of bicycle inner tube, or a broad flexible commercial tie.

Hello, just checking in to see if you have guidance on relieving the weight issues that are causing the tree to slump over at the top. Thank you.

The top of the tree is bent over because the load of new leaves is too heavy for such a spindly stem. Perhaps the tree was grown in too shady a site.

You can reduce the load on the stem by thinning out the end growth.

Still haven't heard from my colleague.

This is the response from the forester:

"The problem is that the tree was too spindly to begin with – probably grown too long at high density in the nursery. And if they support it with tall stakes/poles, it may just perpetuate the weakness.

"But I think a combination of thinning out the heavy leaves and setting up a tall pole for temporary support might be the only way to straighten it, loosening ties gradually so the stem stiffens up.

"Or else start over with a properly cultivated sapling."