A Tree Doctor On Common Symptoms and Diseases


We all want the urban forests bringing beautiful greens to the community to be healthy and happy. These can last many, many years if looked after right, and the key to ensuring these forests stay in optimal condition is to regularly monitor them and treat them accordingly. We find this a fascinating practice so we’ve decided to share with you a little 101 on the art of tree healing by a very special kind of doctor.


First, you may be wondering, what exactly this specialist known as the tree doctor does? Allow us to enlighten you…

‘Tree doctor’ or ‘surgeon’ is really code for an arboriculture professional; an arborist. This involves close monitoring of individual plants, including vines, shrubs and bushes. A survey and evaluation is completed to return both basic info such as species and height, and of course, to diagnose diseases and pests. This may involve climbing and ascending into the canopy for closer field observations.

Based on this information, the arborist together with you and your local council can find the most appropriate treatment based on the plant’s conditions – that is, in the best interest of the plant, without jeopardizing safety to those residing around it. In some cases an informed decision to prune or remove the plant can be made from this, with the advice of a tree doctor, you’ll just know what to do.

So, now we have an idea what this is all about. Your next question may be when do you need the services of these enviro-specialists…

Tree doctor’s orders – call when you spot these signs

When your urban forests have become rotten or damaged, that is a sure time to call on your local specialist. There are a number of different factors that can cause this. Here are just some…



Storms – wind and rain can spread

Insects & birds – can cause damage themselves, for example by consuming sap. They can also spread pathogens to the specimen.


Here are some common visible symptoms that something just isn’t right…

Mushrooms on bark

Gray growths

Yellow/brown leaves

Powdered mildew

Black flowers or shoots

Peeling bark

Seeping fluid

When you spot any of these signs, it’s time for a house call from the tree doctor. Plus these signs could be indicative of diseases and pests that may spread to other plants.


Common diseases


Based on Australian cases, we have also collected some info on 3 of the most common and detrimental diseases and pests we see here…

Cypress Canker Disease

Signs – red colour on branches, yellowing branches, spores

Cause – fungus spread by water, wind or pruning materials

The Cypress Canker has spread like wildfire through parts of Australia surfaces as an angry red and yellowing on branches. It’s quite the fiery fungus, and can quickly spread through the entire plant and cause a rapid death. As there is currently no effective cure or prevention, the solution is removal.

Emerald Ash Borer – Pest

Signs – yellowing leaves, dying branches.

Cause – beetle that digs into bark

This beetle burrows tunnels through the bark, causing damage to the plant, this surfacing through the leaves and branches. The tree doctor says that while there are  fungicides that can be injected, these are often not effective, meaning the solution in this case tends to be removal of the infected plant in or to prevent spread to surrounding vegetation.


  1. Oak Wilt

Signs – wilting leaf discoloration, defoliation

Cause – fungus via insects

The disease spreads to healthy plants through insects and can lead to some serious wounds. The tree doctor suggests fungicides, however at this stage these are more preventative than curative.



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About the Author: Megan DeGrom

Megan DeGrom was born and raised in New Jersey just outside the Pine Barrons. As a journalist, Megan has contributed to many online publications including Rotten Tomatoes and Variety. In regards to academics, Megan earned a degree in business from St. John's University. Megan covers economy stories here at Clear Publicist.