Fungus Killing SC Oak Trees - WSPA.com

Fungus Killing SC Oak Trees

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -

Unpredictable weather can not only stress you out, it can also strain oak trees and make them susceptible to diseases, such as hypoxylon canker.

"It is always floating through the air. It is much like a cold virus," says Todd Mullen, arborist and owner of Timber Tree Care in Spartanburg.

Unlike you, a tree can't go to the doctor for medicine. So it will suffer until it eventually dies.

"It poses a large liability to the homeowner's property and the general public," Mullen said.

A dead oak is a dangerous oak because it's more likely to fall, according to Mullen.

But what upsets Mullen though is nine-out-of-10 dead oak trees he finds will have hypoxylon canker, a deadly fungus, under its bark.

Mullen says it's a disease that homeowners can help prevent. The problem is not many people know how to properly care for oaks or signs of stress.

"I would hate to see all these trees die. It would be a tragedy," says John Manatis who lives in Converse Heights.

A tree can become stressed for numerous reasons. Lack of rain is the biggest culprit.

Mullen says a tree with the disease will have large gray spots on its trunk, flaking bark and thinning foliage.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission has been receiving an increasing number of reports about dead trees in the high ridges of Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties.

"It is just a sad situation. They are such beautiful trees," says Duncan resident John Rollins.

Oak trees with the fungus need to be removed in order to prevent the disease from spreading. Mullen says that's an important step to stay on top of this budding problem

If you don't know if your oak trees have this disease, contact your local Clemson Extension office for information or a certified arborist to come look at the tree.

Mullen says the fungus will not attack healthy oaks.

To protect your trees, he recommends: watering it during periods of little to no rain, use fertilizer, only plant oak trees in areas where they have enough room to grow, and keep it properly trimmed.

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