What Does A Dying Tree Look Like: Signs That A Tree Is Dying

Large Dying Tree
dead tree
(Image credit: MichelleLee3900)

Since trees are so important to our everyday life (from buildings to paper), it is not surprising that we have a stronger connection to trees than almost every other plant. While the death of a flower may go unnoticed, a dying tree is something we find to be alarming and sad. The sad fact is that if you look at a tree and are forced to ask yourself, "What does a dying tree look like?" chances are that tree is dying.

Signs That a Tree is Dying

The signs that a tree is dying are many and they differ greatly. One sure sign is a lack of leaves or a reduction in the number of leaves produced on all or part of the tree. Other signs of a sick tree include the bark becoming brittle and falling off the tree, the limbs dying and falling off, or the trunk becoming spongy or brittle.

What Causes a Dying Tree?

While most trees are hardy for decades or even centuries, they can be affected by tree diseases, insects, fungus, and even old age. Tree diseases vary from species to species, as do the types of insects and fungus that can hurt various types of trees. Much like animals, the mature size of the tree generally determines how long the lifespan of a tree is. Smaller ornamental trees will typically only live for 15 to 20 years, while maples can live 75 to 100 years. Oaks and pine trees can live up to two or three centuries. Some trees, like Douglas Firs and Giant Sequoias, can live a millennia or two. A dying tree that is dying from old age cannot be helped.

What to Do for a Sick Tree

If your tree has you asking "What does a dying tree look like?" and "Is my tree dying?" the best thing you can do is call an arborist or a tree doctor. These are people who specialize in diagnosing tree diseases and can help a sick tree get better. A tree doctor will be able to tell you if what you are seeing on a tree are signs that a tree is dying. If the problem is treatable, they will also be able to help your dying tree get well again. It may cost a little money, but considering how long it can take to replace a mature tree, this is only a small price to pay.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.