Should You Worry About Leaf Scars in Trees?

Many things can cause leaf scars. In this post, Clark Tree Experts, MT. Airy’s tree risk assessment specialists explain more about the causes and what you can do about it. 

leaf scars

What Are Leaf Scars? 

There are two distinct causes for this condition. The first is from an injury, and the second is when a leaf falls and leaves a scar on the twig or branch. 

Wound Scars

Contrary to popular belief, these marks are signs that the plant is relatively healthy. The marks may be due to: 

  • A wound due to weather damage like hail 
  • Tearing due to wind damage
  • Pests chomping on the outside of the leaves 
  • Something making a hole in the center of the leaf 
  • Leaf spot diseases or other issues that cause disfiguration

Leaf scars, in this instance, are a good sign because it means that the tree healed. When disease or pest damage overwhelms a plant, it will no longer recover. 

Preventing this kind of damage is almost impossible because it means protecting your tree from every little knock along the way. Even if you could, it would result in a weaker specimen, so it’s better to let your plant fight its own battles. 

Leaf Drop Scars

These are perfectly natural. Normally, the tree holds onto its leaves very tightly; otherwise, a gentle breeze or raindrop could dislodge them. The leaf connects to the vascular system in the branch through a strong series of veins and capillaries. 

Over the course of its life, the leaf produces the sugar the tree needs through the process of photosynthesis, using resources from the tree and sunlight. As the leaf gets older, however, it becomes less efficient, and it becomes a burden. 

At this stage, the leaf dies and detaches itself from the stem. This, initially, leaves a tiny open wound in the stem, just below the axillary buds (the area where new branches or twigs develop). 

Fixing the Damage

The tree must, naturally, seal off the petiole, as it is vulnerable to disease and bugs. It might, therefore, leak some sap that protects the wound. Trees that lose their leaves every year are adept at managing this process and so will heal quickly and easily. 

The only time to feel concerned is if the tree is unwell or less vital than it should be. Nine times out of ten, though, nature doesn’t need our help. You will see many of these scars along the branches and twigs, and they will soon fade into very faint marks. 

Each species of tree leaves a unique scab that allows experts to identify the species, even without foliage. It’s important to note that there’s a difference between these natural scabs and the signs of insect mining. 

It’s interesting to look at perennial trees for evidence of this process. You’ll see that the scars form interesting patterns that add to the plant’s beauty rather than detract from it. 

Can You Prevent These Marks? 

You can try to prevent pests from infesting trees and protect the plant from disease. That said, there are many things you cannot guard against. For example, a twig may pierce a leaf during a strong windstorm, making a hole.

Considering the fleeting nature of wound scars, it’s not worth taking preventative measures aside from shoring up your plant’s defenses against disease.  

Contact Us 

Now that you know more about leaf scars, why not learn how to tell if a tree is rotten inside from the arborists at Clark Tree Experts? Our team is happy to help you with all your queries if something else is troubling you. Contact us by calling (706) 949-9016, and we’ll send someone out. 

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