The effects of heat stress on a tree can be devastating. Heat stress generally occurs during times of intensely hot, above average temperatures. Most trees can cope with a certain amount of heat, but above the highest threshold, trees may begin to succumb to the effects, which sometimes includes death.

If your region is experiencing above average temperatures, then perhaps the most obvious sign of heat stress on a tree is browning, wilting leaves. This is also known as scorching. Scorching may also be further noted if the region is also lacking sufficient amounts of precipitation, in general, presenting drought-like conditions. This may be especially true in places such as Austin, Texas, where temperatures are sometimes known to be rather uncomfortable.

At times, it may be hard to recognize sincere signs of death in a tree. For instance, the loss of leaves an a seasonally-inappropriate time (such as any season other than autumn) is an indicator of a problem. However, trees sometimes shed their leaves in response to heat stress, almost as a defense mechanism meant to ultimately help survive the stressors. To the untrained eye, this may be confounding or overlooked. It may require the assistance of an Austin tree trimming professional.

It’s also important to note that the effects of heat stress can sometimes be confused as other diseases. For instance, contrary to the above scenario, some trees continue to hold on to their leaves, but the most distal ends may exhibit signs of scorching. Again, to the untrained eye, this could easily be confused for something that it isn‘t.

Consider the following. In Texas, Austin oak wilt is a rather significant problem. When a tree is affected by oak wilt, one of the most marked signs of its presence is wilting of the tree’s leaves. Too often, oak wilt causes the death of a tree by clogging its water-conducting vessels. This doesn’t necessarily imply that there is a lack of precipitation within the region, however; only that the tree is unable to make use of the precipitation.

So, although the effects upon a tree are similar between the oak wilt and heat stress, the problems may have very different foundations. Oak wilt may exist with or without precipitation, but heat stress generally exists because of a lack of precipitation.

If you live in a location where the occurrence of oak wilt is quite prevalent, as well as are periods of excessive heat or lack of rainfall, and your landscaping trees exhibit signs of deterioration common to more than one cause, contact an Austin tree care expert for assistance in determining the cause and treatment.

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

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