Sick Trees?

The key to avoiding disease is maintaining healthy trees!

At Boutte Tree we have a passion for keeping trees alive. Most of our clients are in the City of Atlanta and have old trees which require more care. When we come out to look at your trees, we’ll treat them as if we depended upon them for shade and tranquility at our own house. In fact almost all of our Arborists posses old and beautiful trees themselves, and so they will know just how you feel about your trees from the beginning.

For nearly all of the following diseases it’s possible to prevent disease through diligent care of your trees. Remember that trees evolved for millions of years in forest conditions. Your yard probably lacks the deep mulch, established soils, and unaltered drainage that most trees require for optimum health. We can help keep your trees healthy and avoid the sad and expensive prospect of tree removal!

Below are just a few of the diseases that attack trees here in Atlanta. Call us right away if you suspect that your tree is stressed, sick or dying. Look for the warning signs: Loss or discoloration of foliage, crown dieback, mushrooms sprouting from base, dripping from the leaves, or anything else unusual.

Pine Beetles

Prevention: Yes   Cure: No
Symptom: My tree has browning needles or yellow puffs in bark.

Like many boring insects, Pine Beetles can kill a tree very quickly. These tiny beetles enter the tree unseen and begin boring galleys under the bark, where they lay their eggs. They can kill a tree by girdling it under the bark. Part of the reason they are so lethal is that they carry a blue-stain fungus with them which also weakens the tree.

A healthy Pine may be able to repel the attack, while a sick or stressed tree is more likely to succumb quickly. In addition, the beetles tend to be more lethal in some years than others. Read the Boutte Tree Fact Sheet on Pine Beetles to learn more or contact Boutte Tree and schedule an appointment with an Arborist to talk more about preventative treatments.

Oak Problems

Prevention: Yes   Cure: Variable
Symptom: My tree has thinning foliage, black oozing from bark, trails of very fine sawdust near base, bad odor near tree.

There are a variety of pests and diseases that attack Oaks. When you notice that your Oak tree has a problem, such as wilting or sparse foliage or many dead limbs, remember that the cause is seldom a single specific pathogen or pest. Trees have defenses against these and generally only succumb to them when they are already stressed by other factors such as low rain, soil compaction, root disruption, poor soil, lightning damage, competition with vines or ivy, etc.

A skilled Arborist can evaluate your “stressed” tree and determine the likely causes of stress and the possible secondary factors that could kill the tree. Then, he/she can develop a strategy for helping the tree.

As an example, suppose that your Oak tree appears to less foliage and has several dead limbs. You wonder if the drought is causing the problem, or if it was the new driveway you put in only 10′ away from the tree. You call Boutte Tree Inc and one of the friendly Arborists comes out and looks around. He/she confirms that the drought has been bad, and that the driveway replacement may have been detrimental. He/she notes that the grass is growing up to the very base of the tree and the grass is being heavily fertilized and irrigated. He/she explains how the cultural environment is not ideally suited to the tree’s health and recommends changes. Then, he/she explains the organic fertilizers offered by Boutte Tree Inc and some disease prevention measures to keep the tree safe until its health recovers. This is a typical tree situation that we deal with everyday at Boutte Tree Inc. Also see our Fact Sheet on Fertilizers.

Aphids and Scale Insects

Prevention: Yes   Cure: Yes
Symptom: My tree constantly drips or ‘bleeds’ sap on the ground, or has unhealthy foliage.

Aphids are tiny insects that have piercing mouth parts that they use to draw sap from the tree. There are thousands of varieties and they can attack many different kinds of trees in Atlanta, including some evergreen trees. They are greedy and take a large amount of the trees sap and simply excrete it. This can “rain down” from the tree if it is badly infected and stain cars, blacken driveways, and otherwise make everything a sticky mess underneath the tree. Luckily, there are several effective methods available for controlling aphids, so take a look at our Fact Sheet on Aphids or Fact Sheet on Scale Insects or call us on the phone!

Ambrosia Beetles

Prevention: Yes   Cure: No
Symptom: Rapid dieback of canopy or trails of fine sawdust near the base of my tree.

You may have lost a tree to Ambrosia Beetles – you will have noticed little rivulets of extremely fine sawdust poring from various discrete points on the bark around the tree. Once these are spotted it’s almost always too late to do anything about Ambrosia Beetles.

Ambrosia Beetles are a class of boring beetles that employ a unique strategy for survival. They attack trees by boring into them then raise fungal colonies on the tree’s xylem tissue. They feed off the fungi, which in turn is feeding off the wood of the tree. In the case of Ambrosial attack of a living tree the combined effect of the beetles’ boring and the fungal attack can kill a tree very quickly. Older trees are more susceptible than young trees.

There are many different species and the severity of the Ambrosia Beetles can vary widely from year to year. It also is true that in some years certain species of tree will be more susceptible to the Beetles than in other years. The best thing to do is call your friendly Arborist at Boutte Tree Inc to discuss your concern about Ambrosia Beetles. Your arborist will be able to tailor a preventative plan that controls the Beetles and meets your budget. For more information, see out Fact Sheet on Ambrosia Beetles.


Prevention: Difficult   Cure: Yes
Symptom: Clumps of dark green in the canopy of hardwoods in wintertime.

Though of utility for the romantically unattached during the Christmas Season, Mistletoe is a parasite for trees! You’ll be able to easily spot mistletoe in the winter when the leaves fall off for it is evergreen. It forms little round clumps of green on the otherwise naked branches. Though a few small plants won’t dramatically harm a tree, the mistletoe can spread throughout the canopy of a tree and begin weakening the tree by robbing it of water and nutrients. Mature trees are especially vulnerable because they may not be able to quickly outgrow the mistletoe. Once heavily established, the mistletoe will attract birds which will in turn hasten the spread of the mistletoe within the canopy of the tree and to nearby trees.

It’s hard to prevent Mistletoe from entering your tree, but once present we can usually control it. Read our Fact Sheet on Mistletoe or call our arborists out to address this concern and any others you may have about your trees’ health.

Dutch Elm Disease

Prevention: Yes   Cure: Difficult
Symptom: Dead branches in the canopy of my tree.

These are probably the best-known tree disease are known to many people who are not tree experts. The absence of the American Elm along the streets and Boulevards of America’s small towns and Cities is a reminder of how important it is to take care of trees, because they have such a calming effect on us.

The loss of America’s Elms was perhaps not felt quite as strongly in the South where there are so many fine Oak trees. Still there are many people who remember the tree fondly. There have been numerous attempts to develop resistant cultivars and there are several that are now available, such as the “Princeton”, “Valley Forge”, and “Lewis & Clark” varieties.

The disease is caused by the fungus ascomycete which is brought into the tree by the elm bark beetle. The beetle does nominal damage but the fungus causes a reaction in the trees xylem which blocks the flow of food downwards, starving the tree’s roots and leading to tree death, usually within one season.

When the disease first struck in the 1930’s there was no effective controls available. Now there are preventative controls, but as is usually the case with boring insect/fungal pathogen combinations, there is little that can be done for trees that are already infected. The products on the market provide a high level of control to protect trees from being infected, so call Boutte Tree Inc to consult with an Arborist about protecting your American Elm if you are lucky enough to have one still!

Hypoxylon Canker

Prevention: Possible   Cure: No
Symptom: Grey or black chalky patched areas on the trunk of my tree.

This aggressive fungus is noteworthy because it seems to have a “mark of death” prior to the leaves turning brown. This is the fruiting body of the fungus which may appear to be no more than a small gray or black patch on the bark of the trunk. Even if the tree still has all of its leaves, the presence of this fruiting fugal body means that unfortunately the tree will die. An exception is when the fungus is only present on a branch of the tree.

There are plenty of ways to prevent this fungus from attacking your tree, but there is no way to stop it once it is established in your tree. See our Fact Sheet on Hypoxylon Canker or give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk to you more!

Wood Decaying Fungus

Prevention: Variable   Cure: No
Symptom: Mushrooms sprouting near base of my tree.

If you see mushrooms near the base of your tree than you may have a wood decaying fungus. Some fungi attack the living portions of the tree while others will merely rot the wood. What the fungus does is extend a network of tiny filaments slowly into the wood which consume the sugar that the tree stored as cellulose. The fungus occasionally will produce a fruiting body, or mushroom, which sends millions of tiny spores into the air to find new hosts.

The danger with wood-decaying fungus is that even if the fungus does not aggressively attack the living portions of the tree, it will gradually weaken the tree by decaying the supports structure, i.e., the trunk wood and supporting roots. You may view our Fact Sheet on Armillaria Fungus but really it’s best to contact an arborist who will have more experience with the different local fungi and their respective characteristics.

Bacterial Wetwood

Prevention: Yes   Cure: Difficult
Symptom: Black oozing from my tree and my tree smells like it’s fermenting.

If your tree is oozing from a blackened area on the trunk, and has a foul smell of fermented sugar, then your tree most likely has a bacterial infection of the xylem tissue. This is known as slime flux, bacterial wetwood, or simply wetwood. Similar to the flu in humans, this sickness drains the tree of energy but does not directly kill trees. It does, however, open the door for other pathogens to enter the tree and possibly do further damage.

To read more about this noxious little tree problem, read our Fact Sheet on Bacterial Wetwood. You can call us to discuss the best way to control this problem and return your tree to good health.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Prevention: Yes   Cure: No
Symptom: My tree had dieback or leaves and then whole branches.

Dogwood Anthracnose has decimated most of the Dogwoods in the American forest. This disease can make your beautiful Dogwood flowers/leaves look sickly and not very attractive. It is important to protect your trees in spring during when moist weather spreads the disease. Please call one of our Certified Arborist to set up a series of preventive dogwood anthracnose sprays. Check out the Fact Sheet on Dogwood Anthracnose.

Boxwood Leaf Miner

Prevention: Yes   Cure: Yes
Symptom: My boxwoods have many brown leaves and look unhealthy.

The Boxwood Leaf miner causes serious damage to boxwoods, with heavily damaged plants become unattractive in appearance. Boxwood Leaf miner is an easy insect to control for your boxwoods on your property. Do not delay treatment is best done in the late winter or early spring. Call one of our certified Arborists to set up your boxwood program. Check out Boxwood Leaf Miner Fact Sheet.