In case you’re still in doubt

that we’re suffering from excessive heat and drought, a 600-year-old oak tree, a tree that was already 350 years old at the time of the Declaration of Independence, has died. Arborists believe that the current drought and heat dealt the final blow. Very old trees, like very old people, have trouble dealing with physical stress.

Many trees are suffering from the combined effects of heat and drought (it doesn’t help that today, October 17, the temperature has reached 80 degrees). Rainfall has been well below normal for the past two growing seasons: for the past 30 days, rainfall has been approximately 50 percent of the normal amount. Very young and very old trees suffer the most; well established plants that are sited correctly usually do well.

What are some signs of drought stress in trees? A few include drooping leaves, early leaf drop, and brown leaf margins. A tree that loses all its leaves much earlier than usual will usually not leaf out again next year. A dead crown (top of the tree) is a clear signal that the tree is dying. What can you do? If the symptoms are mild, water deeply once a week until frost (see the Guidelines for Sensible Watering page). If the symptoms are severe, it’s probably too late to save the tree. Make sure it’s not likely to do damage if it falls, and have it taken down as soon as possible. Leave a snag, or standing trunk, in place to provide shelter and food for wildlife.

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