Causes of Oak Wilt

A variety of oak trees can be found in the landscape of Austin, Texas. However, oak trees are quite susceptible to a deadly tree disease known as oak wilt. This is a disease which clogs the water-conducting vessels of the tree, thereby depriving it of the essential element of water and essentially causing the oak to wilt unto its death. Unfortunately, many of the oaks in Austin have succumbed to this disease. Since oaks generally meet their demise once exposed to the disease, prevention is critical. Knowing the causes of the disease, whether primary or secondary, may assist in prevention of the disease altogether.

There are two primary, widely-recognized causes of oak wilt. The first is through spore-producing fungal mats, which attract vectors, namely nitdulid, a type of beetle. The fungal mats produce a fruity odor that attracts the beetles. The beetles feed on the fungal mats until there is nothing left to consume. Upon their physical transport to another feeding area, they carry with them spores from the fungal mats. The spores infiltrate the new feeding area. This exposes a once-healthy oak to oak wilt disease and, ultimately, its ruin. The second primary cause occurs underground through interconnected root systems. If a diseased tree’s roots are intertwined with a healthy tree’s roots, this usually spells disaster for the healthy tree. Unless appropriate action is taken to separate the roots, the chances of exposure to the disease are substantial.

There are also secondary causes of oak wilt. These causes comparably consist of underlying ways in which damage is done to the tree. If damage occurs in such a way that a wound is created, then it facilitates the fungal mats responsible for attracting vectors and the subsequent transmission of the disease by the vectors to healthy trees.

One secondary cause of oak wilt is damaged limbs. These may be from breakage from high winds during a storm or from inappropriate trimming or pruning techniques. Appropriate trimming and pruning are essential to the vitality of a tree, but perhaps more so when it comes to oak trees. Because oak wilt in Austin is quite menacing, so, too, is potential exposure of a healthy tree to the disease. If your oak tree has damaged limbs, secure an Austin tree trimming specialist immediately for professional trimming or pruning and appropriate wound dressing in order to prevent the spread of oak wilt.

Another secondary cause of oak wilt is through damage to the ground roots or the trunk. This may inadvertently occur through routine lawn maintenance. Nicks or abrasions may create a wound that eventually leads to oak wilt exposure. The same possibility exists for trees on property, whether public or private, where construction occurs. Heavy construction equipment carries the risk of damaging a tree and exposing it to the disease. If construction is planned or is ongoing on your property, consult a reputable Austin tree care service in order to preserve the health of your oaks.

Additional secondary causes of oak wilt include limbs near power lines or that are low-hanging over roadways and require trimming. Again, appropriate trimming or pruning techniques are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the oak. Another sometimes unnoticed secondary cause may include animal or termite damage. Because most animals or termites are relatively small and frequently only appear seasonally, the damage they sometimes cause may be gradual and easily overlooked.

Contact an Austin oak wilt professional with your questions or concerns about the disease, as well as the management of its primary and secondary causes, to preserve your oaks for years to come.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree service in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and oak wilt treatment. For more information on Austin tree service, please visit https://www.centraltexastreecare.com.

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