How to Tell if a Tree Is Rotten Inside: 9 Signs to Watch For

Do you know how to tell if a tree is rotten inside? Contrary to popular belief, the signs are easy to miss. In this post, Clark Tree Experts, Mt. Airy’s tree risk assessment specialists, explain the warning signs of a sick tree.

Should you notice any of these, please call us immediately to maximize the chances of saving your tree and protecting healthy trees around it.

The Signs of Rot 

The initial signs are common indicators that the tree is in distress. You may notice any combination of the following:

  1. Slow or stunted growth
  2. Wilting leaves
  3. Unseasonal leaf drop or dead leaves
  4. Abnormal bark behavior like peeling
  5. The trunk leaning
  6. Fungi growing on the bark
  7. Many dead branches dropping off
  8. Splitting trunks
  9. Ground disturbances due to root damage

If there are open wounds in the trunk, you may see evidence of rotting wood inside. The downside is that all these conditions may also relate to other diseases or pest infestations. Therefore, it is advisable to call in a certified arborist for a firm diagnosis. 

Types of Heart Rot

There are three types of rot, all of which are fungal or bacterial in nature. Understanding these is the first step in how to tell if a tree is rotten inside. If you act quickly enough, you can still save the tree, so keep our number on hand in case the following apply:

  • Brown Rot: This is a 911 situation and very serious. It will rot the tree and cause the wood to dry out and crumble.
  • White Rot: While not as immediately damaging as brown rot, white rot poses its own dangers, including the dangers of white fungus on trees. It is harder to diagnose because the wood feels moist, but it also takes on a soft, spongy texture.
  • Soft Rot: This is the least severe of the three as it progresses slowly. It is the type your tree will most likely recover from if you move quickly. 

Treating Heart Rot

Once the rot sets in and you see growths on the trunk, your tree will likely die. Our team will inspect the tree and assess the risk but will most times recommend removal in most cases. This is because the outward signs of rot are generally only evident when the damage progresses.

It may prove a difficult decision for tree owners, especially if the tree is special. However, it’s wise to look at it as if it were already dead. Once the fungi appear, there is no way to reverse the rot, so the tree will slowly start to starve and dry out.

As this happens, it will lose more branches, increasing the risk of heavy limbs falling on people. There is also the chance of the tree beginning to topple and potentially uprooting itself. Removal as soon as possible is necessary to prevent the tree from crashing down. It will also prevent the spread of the disease to other healthy trees. 

Prevention Is the Best Cure

Once you notice signs of rot, it may already be too late. Your best defense is to keep your trees as healthy as possible. Feed and water your trees properly, and consider calling in a certified arborist to check up on them once a year.

Contact Clarks Tree Experts Today!

Now that you know how to tell if a tree is rotten inside, do you suspect an issue with one of your trees? Contact Clark Tree Experts to schedule a tree risk assessment and discuss tree removal to keep your family safe.

We have offices in Georgia and South Carolina, so reach out by calling:

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