Is the Bark falling off your trees?
By: Aubie Keesee, Hughes County Extension Educator Ag / 4-H / CED
I have received several calls and been to look at a few cases where a homeowner was reporting the bark falling off of their trees. While not all cases are identical, there is one disease that can be devastating to a homeowner. Hypoxylon canker affects most species of oaks and can affect several trees at one time.
Hypoxylon canker is usually associated with stresses caused by drought, heat, wound, or chemical injury. Very little is known about the virus that attacks the tree, but more than likely, the summer drought of 2011 caused enough stress on the trees to allow this fungus to appear. Homeowners will usually first notice trees with leaves that turn yellow and wilt with entire branches dying (usually from the top of the tree and working its way down). The bark then usually sloughs off the tree and exposes a brown, black, silver, or white stroma (a mat of fungal spores) on the tree.
A large tree may be killed within one to two years, but because the early stages of the disease often go unnoticed trees may appear to die with a few weeks. Unfortunately, there is no effective control for this disease. The only solution is to cut down the affected trees at ground level and burn the stumps and all wood. Many times people want to leave a stump or use the wood for firewood, but the fungus remains active on dead wood and will continue the spread of disease.
I hope this article has helped you understand this devastating disease a little more and, as always, please contact the Hughes County OSU Extension Office at 405-379-5470 with any questions or comments about this topic.
Oklahoma State University, U. S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.