Asked October 12, 2020, 6:18 PM EDT

My question is about some of the foliage this year on woody stems. What caused the spiky and very little foliage this year on some trees, roses, and many others? I have no pictures but it was so prevalent this year in ossineke and black river and elsewhere. Some of the plants developed leaves and some simply didn't. I asked Sarah Routio but she never responded, and I find it hard to look things up on the website; without exact key words I can't browse. I hope this question will be one that can at least be answered. If not, please tell me where to go. Thank yo u, Christy Riemenschneider

Alpena County Michigan

1 Response

Hello Christy,

There are a few things that cause dieback or poorly leafed out branches. When different species of plants, like the trees and roses you mentioned, are affected seemingly at the same time by the same event, it indicates something in the environment could have impacted the plants.

This May, 2020 we had a few late hard freeze events which killed buds on many plants and trees, and the twigs did not leaf out or the leaves were distorted.

Another possibility is herbicide damage. Sometimes when herbicides are applied air currents or wind can carry enough around to do some damage to non-target plants.

If you can find someone with a camera on their phone or other camera device, and have some pictures taken and emailed to us, we can give a more detailed opinion.

Call the State-wide, toll-free, MSU Garden Hotline on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 9am to Noon. You can speak directly to someone who can tell you how to get more help: 888-678-3464

Here are some references with pictures to compare with what you have seen.

Frost damage:

Herbicide damage:

If you see distorted growth on roses again next year, rose rosette disease is a strong possibility:

I hope this information is of some help.