Can You Treat Oak Wilt?

A Healthy Oak Tree.

Can you treat oak wilt?

Oak trees of all species are used extensively in landscaping in Texas. You can see them lining city sidewalks as often as they are shading suburban homes. Unfortunately, many of these trees—red oaks in particular—are also dying out rapidly because of the spread of oak wilt. This fungal infection spreads through the tree’s root system, blocking it’s vascular system, which prevents nutrients from moving through the tree. While there is no effective chemical treatment to “cure” the oak of the disease, there are effective treatments and methods to manage the infection’s spread. Some of the management methods include eliminating diseased trees or disrupting connected root systems to prevent root transmission. Using fungicides like propiconazole can slow the spread of the disease in an individual tree, extending its life and reducing crown loss. It’s also used as an effective pre-treatment to stop the spread of the disease. These are just some of the methods arborists like those at Butler Tree Health use for oak wilt treatment in Fort Worth, TX. If you have oaks affected by this disease, you can get help from us by calling 817-882-6499.

What causes oak wilt

Oak wilt is caused by a fungus known as Ceratocystis fagacearum. It attacks the tree’s vascular system and is sometimes transmitted to tree roots by insects like sap-feeding beetles and bark beetles. These insects feed on the fungal spore mats that develop between the tree’s bark. They then carry the spores to uninfected trees and the spores get into any wounds in the tree’s surface. This can happen to trees that have recently been pruned, especially in the spring and summer. It’s usually best to prune and trim trees during dormant seasons.

While insects can be carriers, oaks most often transmit the disease between connected root systems or root graft. A root graft occurs when two trees of the same species fuse roots together. Infected trees then transmit the disease to the uninfected tree through the roots.

What are the signs of oak wilt?

Oak wilt can present itself in various ways, depending on the tree species, but leaf discoloration of varying severity is a typical sign in both red oaks and white oaks. Symptoms in white oaks will appear more gradually than in red oaks, and leaf discoloration and loss may be less severe.

Here are some ways to identify oak wilt:

  • If the tree is close to dying, the black and gray fungal spore mats under the bark crack may rise up and crack through the bark.
  • In red oaks, leaf discoloration will begin at the tips of the leaves and move toward the midrib and base.
  • Leaves will begin to grow dull green or bronze before wilting and may appear water-soaked.
  • In red oaks, leaves will rapidly turn yellow or brown and begin to curl before being shed at the branch tips.
  • Both diseased and green leaves then begin to fall from the crown.

Which oak trees get oak wilt?

Almost every species of the oak tree can get oak wilt. Red oaks, however, are the most susceptible to the disease. They can die within one to two months of infection, whereas white oaks may take several years to die. Some white oaks may actually seem to recover, though they remain infected.

Can an oak tree survive oak wilt?

Once an oak tree is infected with oak wilt, it will eventually die from the disease. Red oaks are the most susceptible to the disease and can die fairly quickly, usually within two months of infection. White oaks as well as live oaks often take much longer to die from the infection. If oak trees are in a cluster, it’s possible some of the trees will not get infected by the disease and will survive.

Can oak wilt spread to other trees

Oak wilt can spread fairly quickly between trees of the same oak species, though research hasn’t shown it can be transmitted from live oak species, for instance, to red oak species. As a precaution, however, no diseased oak wood should be kept near any healthy living oak tree. The disease doesn’t seem to spread to other tree species.

Can oak wilt spread through firewood

If you transport unseasoned firewood from diseased red oaks, you can potentially spread the disease to other oaks. Burning the firewood itself won’t transmit the disease, but fungal mats can form on the unseasoned wood. This wood should not be stored near healthy trees.

How do you revive a dying oak tree?

A tree that’s dying from oak wilt cannot be revived, but to keep your other trees healthy, it is best to remove that tree from your yard. If the tree has died in the late summer, fall, or early winter, it ought to be cut down and either burned, buried or chipped. Any healthy trees that have been recently pruned or trimmed need to have the wounds treated by painting them. Any type of paint will do. 

Healthy Oak Leaves.

Oak wilt treatment near me

If you are worried your trees might have oak wilt in Fort Worth, TX, let the expert arborists at Butler Tree Health check them out. We can diagnose the tree and others around it that could be infected. We offer a full range of solutions to help keep your trees healthy. Find out what we can do for you by calling 817-882-6499.