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There are a variety of factors that can lead to a tree’s death, including stress from weather conditions, disease, insects, pollution, and soil erosion. A particularly dangerous threat, however, is Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum, a water mold pathogen. Despite the specificity of its name, SOD can (and does) occur in a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and plants across the country.

If you suspect that your tree may be dying but are unsure of the cause, enlist the help of a local tree service like Timber Works Tree Care to diagnose the problem. Our certified professionals will help you determine if any tree poses a threat to your property, and one of our experienced crews will handle its removal safely and efficiently. We offer professional tree care services throughout the Fairfax County, VA area and are committed to the health and safety of your arborage. 

Here, we discuss the causes, signs, and symptoms of Sudden Oak Death: 

Where Does It Come From?

While the exact origin of the Phytophthora ramorum pathogen is unknown, it is believed to have been introduced from Asia and proliferated in tree nurseries. SOD was first encountered within the US in 1995: it appeared in California and spread throughout the Northern California coast and southern Oregon, endangering woodlands and neighboring landscape trees in those regions. 

Although primarily reported in California and Oregon forests, SOD has the potential to infect susceptible species on the East Coast as well. 

How is it Transferred? 

There are several suggested sources that can transmit SOD, including:

  • Infected nursery stock
  • Wind-blown rain
  • Contaminated irrigation water
  • Infected plants
  • Contaminated soil or potting mix

What Are the Symptoms? 

While Sudden Oak Death is a deadly disease with no known cure, the signs of infection can be relatively minimal. Known symptoms include:

  • Leaf spots: Brown blotches with a blackish edge/border will usually appear on infected leaves.
  • Twig dieback: The progressive death of twigs, branches, or shoots starting at their tips.
  • Trunk cankers: These reddish brown calluses appear on the bark of infected trees and often “bleed” black or reddish ooze. They are the most damaging symptom and often lead to the tree’s death.

What You Can Do

As mentioned previously, there is no treatment for SOD, but a fungicide can be used to allay some of the symptoms. 

If you think your tree may be suffering from SOD, contact a certified arborist to diagnose the tree and determine how to best prevent the spread. 

Preventative measures include establishing barriers between infected and non-infected areas and removing plants that have been diagnosed with SOD. 

Timber Works Tree Care: Trusted Local Tree Service in Fairfax County, VA

If unaddressed, a dead or dying tree may be a safety hazard and a potential source of property damage. Our professional staff will address the threat safely and quickly. Timber Works proudly offers a full range of local tree services including tree removal, land clearing, stump grinding, and forestry mulching in the Fairfax County area. We are dedicated to ensuring your landscape and property are kept in great condition, and we retain a reputation as one of the highest-rated full service tree companies in Northern Virginia. 

Give us a call at (540) 254-5773 or send us a message to schedule a consultation and receive a free estimate. 

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