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Spruce Decline

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From: Amanda P
Woodridge, IL
The bottom half of my (large, established) spruce tree looks dead, with zero green on it. I'm guessing its some type of Spruce decline/infection. My question is, in Spruce Decline, generally, are these branches actually dead? if I go through the process to find out the exact cause of the ailment/treat it, do these branches spring back to health?

I'm wondering if it is worth it to go through the process to treat it since so many branches look 'lost'.

Additionally, I have two pine trees next to the Spruce. Can spruce decline transfer over and infect pines too? Or are these ailments pretty specific to spruces?

Thank you!

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Hi Amanda:

Once spruce branches are infected, the terminal and lateral buds are generally killed and unable to re-flush with new shoots.

Spruce decline is generally genus specific, so you shouldn't have concerns about it spreading to your pines.

More on spruce decline in Illinois:

Additionally, I would strong encourage you to seek professional guidance on these trees via the assistance of a certified arborist. The Illinois Arborist Association lists certified arborists on their website:

Best of luck!

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