Signs of a Sick Tree

signs of sick tree

signs of sick treeJohnson City, TN

It’s easy to take the health of a mature tree for granted. Some trees can live for hundreds of years, and many can live for at least 50. But sometimes, just like humans, trees get sick. And when they get sick, they turn dangerous.

What are the signs and symptoms of a sick tree? Our ISA-certified arborists at Promier Tree in Johnson City share a few things to look for when diagnosing a tree’s health:

What causes a sick tree?

Physical damage and injury to a tree, like what’s sometimes caused in heavy storms or car collisions into trees, can cause illness in a tree. Pests can cause decay, and environmental damage or disease can attack trees, too.

Dead/Weak branches

Snapping a branch is one way to determine the health of a tree. If a branch bends and is green on the inside, that’s a sign of new growth and means the tree is most likely healthy and growing. If a branch easily snaps, however, at least that branch is already dead. If many branches on the tree appear dry and brittle or weak, chances are high that the tree is sick. Dead and weak branches should be promptly removed from a tree because they are notorious for falling to the ground without warning. This could injure people or property. One of our trained arborists in Bristol can examine the rest of the tree to determine its health.

Wilted/Dying leaves

Similar to diagnosing a tree based on the health of its limbs, leaves’ appearance can also help predict the health of a tree. If leaves are curling (wilting), discolored or falling off the tree, especially during spring and summer, this is a good indication that at least a branch of the tree is sick, decaying, diseased or pest-ridden. At worst, it can indicate that the entire tree is dying. A change in leaves indicates that the leaves are not receiving adequate water or nutrients.

Bark abnormalities

Bark is the outermost part of the tree trunk that protects the tree. Damage to the outside of the tree can make the rest of the tree vulnerable and sick. Major damage to the outside of the tree can kill it completely.

Insect infestations

An overabundance of pests can kill a tree. Certain beetles and borers can lay eggs under tree bark and eat the trees from the inside out. Termites feast on dead wood, so their presence on a tree could indicate that the tree’s health was already in danger.


The presence of mold on a tree can indicate that the tree is rotting. Excessive water can cause moisture under the bark of trees, leading to decay and mold on the outside.

Arborists in Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol, Tennessee

As with all other potential problems with trees, regular maintenance is the best prevention against sick or dying trees. If you notice that a tree appears to be suffering, especially during spring or summer, it’s best to call our ISA-certified arborists at Promier Tree in the Tri-cities area to examine the tree. We can likely make a diagnosis on the spot and can tell if the tree can be salvaged or needs to be professionally removed for the safety of property and people. Give us a call at (423) 430-6270, or contact us online today.