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Causes of Tree Decline

On this page
  • Armillaria root rot
  • X-disease
  • Crown gall
  • Bacterial canker
  • Phytophthora root and crown rot
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Nematodes
  • Gophers

Use the photos below to identify damage. Names link to more on identification and management.

Click on photos to enlarge
Disease infection

Armillaria root rot
Armillaria root rot
Identification tip: Initially leaves on one side of the tree turn pale and wilt. Affected trees decline and die over a period of one to a few years. White fungal growth grows under the bark and can be seen by peeling the bark from diseased wood.

X-disease (cherry buckskin)
Identification tip: Affected leaves are smaller than normal, pale green, and more upright. Foliage may be sparse.


Crown gall damage to cherry trunk
Crown gall
Identification tip: Rough, abnormal growths on roots or the trunk are an indication of crown gall infections.

Bacterial canker damage to cherry
Bacterial canker
Identification tip: Entire branches on trees may be girdled, causing them to die. Gumming may be present on the bark surface around the canker margins.

Phytophthora root and crown rot
Phytophthora root and crown rot
Identification tip: Leaves of trees with crown rot wilt, dry, and remain attached to the tree.


Zinc deficiency
Zinc deficiency
Identification tip: Shoot tips are stunted, and leaves are small and pale.

Nematodes damage
Nematode damage
Identification tip: Symptoms of nematode damage may include reduced vegetative vigor, reduced fruit yield, unevenly sized trees, and distorted leaves.

Gopher damage, girdling
Gopher damage
Identification tip: Gopher burrows are evidenced by conspicuous mounds of dirt. The actual opening to the burrow is usually plugged.

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