Saturday, October 8, 2011

Help! My Tree Is Dying!

It is normal for western red cedars
and other conifers to lose some
leaves in autumn.
I have received frantic calls from clients at this time of year because they fear they are losing their favorite evergreen trees. They look into the canopy of a pine, a Hinoki cypress, Douglas fir or western red cedar and see brown needles or leaves - sometimes a lot of them. And they are sure the tree is dying.

But nearly always, the tree is just fine. It is normal for conifers to shed old leaves and needles in the fall. A tree is called an "evergreen" because it has green foliage year around. People often take that to mean that the tree never sheds a leaf, which isn't the case. Older leaves on the inside of the plant, close to the trunk, turn brown and fall in autumn. The rest of the tree, of course, remains "green."

The time when brown foliage on a conifer is a sign of trouble is when the growing tip (the outer end of the branch) turns brown. If you have concerns about the health of your trees, consult with a certified arborist.