Tree - Spruce - Browning

Asked October 19, 2020, 9:12 AM EDT

Rumor has it that the three spruce trees we have were planted after the civil war. They are huge. We have not noticed this pattern in past years however, there is browning on the needles throughout the entire trees.

In the immediate area these events happened this year: Our pine tree went completely brown and we are assuming it is dead and there was juniper tree we found with cedar apple rust in the spring.

Do the spruce trees have a problem? What is it? Can they be saved?

Hillsdale County Michigan

1 Response

In the home landscape, a spruce tree usually stays healthy for about 40 to 60 years, after which its health begins to fail, according to Northern State University. These trees can live much longer in their native environment. If your tree is that old or older, my guess is that old age is taking its toll. Trees do not live forever.

The link below will give you information re. other issues that may be causing the browning of your tree's needles. If the entire lower branches on your tree have died, the problem is likely to be cytospora canker, a fungal disease that lives under the bark and destroys the vessels that carry water and nutrients, so the whole branch dries out and dies. Another common symptom is white sap on the trunk or branches. If you can send a photo of the entire tree, it might shed more light on possible problems.

If this tree is especially valuable to you, your best resource for advice on 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.