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Large Mature Swamp White Oaks Look Stressed (IL)

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From: Lori Tobler
Libertyville, IL
We have several very large mature Swamp White Oaks in our yard that look very distressed. One started looking bad last year and now it is dropping many of its leaves. A second one started doing the same thing and now a 3rd one. Several other large oaks in the area are exhibiting the same leaf drop. Did the drought this spring in the area cause this stress? Will these trees bounce back or are they dying?

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

Identifying the cause of decline of a homeowner's tree is difficult if not impossible over the internet, email, or the phone. That being said, premature leaf drop is definitely a tell-tale sign that "something" is wrong, whether the root is environmental (drought, flooding, lightning, soil compaction, herbicide damage, etc.) or biological (insects/disease).

The symptoms may be ephemeral or transient in nature, or they may be more permanent.

Option #1: Reach out to your local UI Extension office to see if they have a horticulturist or Master Gardener/Naturalist available to conduct an on-site visit and assessment.

Option #2: Contact a certified arborist who specializes in tree health issues.

Option #3: Submit a proper sample to the UI Plant Clinic to rule out several common pathogens that affect oak.

Best of luck!

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