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Beech leaves shrivel and fall off


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#1 Your Letters

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:34 PM

Our tricolor beech tree is 4 or 5 years old and has been beautiful, such a joy. Then last year it leafed out okay but during the summer the leaves turned dry and fell. Not all of them but enough to make the tree noticeably less dense. Any ideas?



#2 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:36 PM

When relatively new growth aborts, or the newest growth (the top, and branch tips) dies back, we suspect a root problem. Can you take pictures of the tree, especially the base of the trunk, and post them? I'm suspicious of a girdling root.



#3 Your Letters

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:38 PM

No leaves on it now, of course. I hope you can see what you need to see in these:

kohlerbeachs.jpg



#4 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:47 PM

That flat-sided trunk is what I suspected we'd see. Use a trowel and dig the soil away around the trunk. You will almost certainly find a root that should have grown out away from what is the back side of the trunk as seen from this angle, and that root wrapped itself around the trunk. (blue line).  It was forced to grow that when it ran into the side of the pot or production container/wrapping, and it was never straightened. Now it's grown thicker and hass not only killed the flare root that should have grown out from the right side of the trunk but is pressing against the trunk and reducing its vigor. So in summer when the heat comes the tree can't keep up, and drops leaves.

 

Left in place, that root will kill the tree or seriously deform and weaken it. The good news is that it's probably only just begun to press on the trunk so if you remove it the tree has a chance. Often, people don't notice the plant's decline until years have passed and it's too late. (We've written a great deal about girdling root problems on GardenAtoZ; go there and put girdling root into our Search field, to see photos and other tree examples.)

 

Cut that girdling root out. Take it off from where it starts (arrow). You may have to do some tedious little-bit-at-a-time digging with the trowel to expose enough of what's buried there, to cut it.

 

Cutting it takes courage, we know. Just do it. You may have to use a chisel to cut it without damaging the bark.

kohlerrootcut.jpg






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