20 Questions Or Who Done It?
Written by: Jean Ferdinandsen – Certified Arborist WI-0149A
Many of us have played the old “20 Questions” game to pass the time (pre-cell phone), or love a good mystery. When a tree is unhealthy, it can’t tell you what’s wrong. Something may just appear “off” in the growth, color, etc. That’s when the detective work starts.
To find out what is wrong with your tree and develop an appropriate plan, a proper sick tree diagnosis is the first step. A diagnosis should follow a systematic process that fits with the symptoms. Symptoms are an indication something is wrong. Some examples might be poor color or growth, holes, no evident root flare…. Signs are physical evidence of the problem, an actual insect or fungi…. Questions need to be asked to get needed information.
Sometimes a diagnosis is very clear cut. An example might be a tree with lacy leaves and Japanese beetles all over it. The symptoms (lacy leaves) and the sign or objective evidence (beetles present) put the pieces readily together for the diagnosis. At other times, the sick tree diagnosis may not be obvious due to many variables and uncertainties. Sometimes there may even be multiple issues affecting a tree’s health.
A step by step, systematic, diagnostic process for your tree goes something like this:
- The very first and most important step is an accurate identification of the tree. It makes a difference! I often tell pet owners their veterinarian needs to know if the patient is a dog, cat, horse, bird…
- Recognize what is a normal appearance for the species, age, degree of establishment, and the site. Is leaf size, Color, and density uniform throughout the tree?
- Also identify what is abnormal for what you are looking at. It could be the tree itself, weather events, or the site.
- Where and when did symptoms appear on the tree, how much of the tree is affected?
- Collect information about the history of the tree and the site.
- Know what the common problems are associated with the information you obtained.
- Analyze that information
- Formulate a diagnosis based on the evidence!!!
Wachtel Tree Science’s Certified Arborists have years of experience and are available to help diagnose concerns about your trees’ health and then recommend appropriate treatments or remediation. Please contact us if you feel something is “not right” with your tree. We make house calls.