Spruce Tree Mystery- Normal or Dying?

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by jpasquini, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    I have a large Norway Spruce tree in my front yard, and as it is 1st November I noticed that alot of the hanging underneedles have turned yellow. I have been somewhat worried since an unresolved sapsucker issue in the summer (posted here).

    I realize this is an evergreen tree. Is it normal for this type of tree to do this sometimes in the fall, or is the tree sick/and or dying? I assume if the latter there is nothing I can do about it.

    Thanks for any advice,

    J Pasquini





    Here are some pictures. I wish I could have done something earlier, but I didn't know what to do.
    BTW- I am not EXACTLY sure this is a Norway Spruce. Is there a possibility this could be a fir tree?
    The leaf structure kind of looks like the middle one on this page, but I have no idea what 'suction cups' are.

    http://forestry.about.com/library/treekey/bltree_key_id_sprucefir.htm
     

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    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  2. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    OK points in its favor. I called and talked to a tree doctor in Chicago (although it was only by phone).

    By my description he said it was a Norway Spruce. And he said typically yes they will sometimes brown/drop leaves in fall underneath but the important thing is they are green on top. But take this picture for instance............that's quite alot of browning.

    Not enough water? Too much water?? Stress caused by insects? Or just an odd year.

    I have no idea but it would be a tragedy if this tree died. It is practically the largest tree on the block.
     

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  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, Norway Spruce (Picea abies).

    My guess would be drought - I've heard that parts of Illinois have done very badly for rain this year. It should recover if rainfall returns to normal.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Since it's not uniform I'd check for an infestation. Maybe clip samples and take to nearest agricultural extension office.
     
  5. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the advice(s). The browning is actually pretty much all over the tree, although it may not look it with the photos. I did have two newly planted dwarf Alberta spruce bushes that died nearby, and I strongly suspect it was because it was so dry this year. I was watering those weekly at first around April, slacked off eventually and finally just gave up they just wouldn't take. I checked around there are some other Norway Spruce-like trees in the neighborhood that also show some browning, but not this severe.

    That is not to say my original fear couldn't be an issue. I was concerned that the sapsuckers could be hitting the tree because there was an infestation, but of what? There were some black ants on the tree (apparently eating the sap), but they have pretty much vanished. None of the wood sounds hollow.

    I have tried some deep watering a couple times in the summer and also some fertilizer spikes, the tree has just seemed a bit 'weak' looking this year. Perhaps not enough watering. I'm not sure where my agricultural extension is.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  7. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Is there a color photo? I'll have to go look at it again when it is light out.

    Cytospora canker.

    I don't see this:

    http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/images/1482

    But the nearest branch is about 20 feet up. Its about the height of a 4 story building +.
    There was some runny sap up near the upper trunk area, where some sapsucker feasting had been going on back when. Maybe it had a whitish tint..............


    Poor tree is really suffering this fall by the looks of things. Well it got a good watering tonight, hopefully it wasnt' fungus and the root rot is now setting in.
    I remember moving in this house thinking "Wow. Boy, it sure would suck, if that tree died".

    Be careful what you think!
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    By uniform I meant dispersed evenly through the foliage, instead you've got a completely yellow spray next to a completely green one, in a sort of checkerboard pattern. Whole twigs are dying at once, in sections.
     
  9. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    It seems the solution to Cytospora Canker, as far as I can find on the web, is S.O.L.

    I gave it a good watering last night, it looks perhaps slightly worse this morning. Seems to have browned like this all at once rather quickly, I think after our first couple of cold nights.

    There are other Norway Spruce trees in my neighborhood that have this underbrowning, but not as much. The holes the sapsuckers drilled over the summer do have some whitish stains leaking from them. But they had been dribbling clear sap back then. It could have dried and turned white.

    As usual websites recommend a good strong watering, while others warn that a good strong watering is the fastest way to kill your tree. So, I guess I'll have to sit back and watch, and keep Springfield Lincoln Logging Company's number at hand.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I'd still try to get help from Illinois Cooperative Extension. If you can get a diagnosis then you will no longer be in the dark about what your options are.
     
  11. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    I have no idea what that is. If that is University of Illinois there are horticulture professors I can try emailing one of those.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  13. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  14. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, it is.
    But I've checked other branches/twigs on the tree and I can't find any more of it.
    None of the dead twigs I can reach have any fluff on them.
     
  15. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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  16. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    On with the Spruce Tree mystery.
    Tree is still very slowly dying.......weather has been rather wet lately but mostly dry up until now.

    I had bad luck with U of I Extension, all they had in our area was a list of tree arborists which pretty much matched what was in the phone book.

    Talked to a tree service, explained this guy seems convinced this problem is a fungus of some kind. He says they typically fire up in dry and/or wet weather(?) and work their way from the bottom up......fungus lies dormant in the soil over the winter and he can spray (come spring) and fertilize for $120. Unfortunately it would cost another $60 for him to come out and look at the tree before spring. If I want to know what kind of fungus, they can analyze it in their 'lab' too but that would cost more.

    That doesn't sound right.............still can't figure out why it 'flash browned' underneath ALL the branches suddenly like three weeks ago. Plus he said tree fungus usually hits trees that have branches touching the ground. Not the case here, it's about 20ft to the first branch. And I would think a fungus would be a gradual thing..................
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  17. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Here's the latest photos of my poor dying tree.
    It's dropped a ton of needles, but that could have been ones that were already dead.

    Still clinging to life!
     

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  18. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  19. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Newt, I'll give it a try!

    JPasquini
     
  20. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Have you tried exploring the base / flare of the trunk for say plastic under mulch? Possibility of wire or twine left on from planting and embedded? (may look like a line around the trunk but under the mulch line)
     
  21. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Hello-

    Just an update to complete this thread, thanks for all your advice.
    For better or for worse, I had taken the garden hose and stuck it into the dirt, and gave it several deep waterings over the course of a few weeks.

    The tree has NOT died. The lower branches that lost their needles never came back, but the tree overall looks reasonably well and seems to have pulled through! It has produced new needles in the spring.

    My self diagnosis is that the sapsucker bullet holes/sap leaking weakened the tree along with the bone dry conditions gave it a summer like an Iraq occupation, but it came back.
     
  22. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thank you so much for the update. It's good to know when something works. I'm glad the tree is doing better.

    Newt
     

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