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is this doug fir dying?  RSS feed

 
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I have a variety of questions, thank you for your input.

1. Is this Doug Fir dying? The top isn't growing, but there are still viable green needles below the top. It's 15 feet from a cluster of 4 dead douglas fir. The sap that is on the trunk has been there since we bought the house 3 years ago.

2. What can be causing it to die? There are tiny gray moths (smaller than my pinky nail) living in the wood pile under the trees. Could they be the culprit? They fly in the house every time we bring wood in.

3. If a red headed woodpecker is going up and down the tree (different tree I'm referring to), is that an ominous sign of tree death to come?

4. The last picture of the bark coming off, is that a sign of dying as well? This is a different doug fir tree. It has very small portions of bark, I don't know if it's where birds have pecked or not.

thanks!
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dead top of tree
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sap on doug tree
IMG_5162.JPG
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bark fallen off?
 
gardener
Posts: 7508
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I think it is dying. Just let it happen. Don't pay some charlatan to promise an unlikely cure. If it could fall on a building, take it down. Otherwise, dead trees are great for wildlife.

Any number of things can kill a tree. Woodpeckers don't bother healthy trees.

Excessive summer watering can kill several species that evolved to deal with summer drought.

If the house is relatively new, the roots may have been damaged or buried too deeply with soil from the excavation.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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As Dale says, that Doug Fir looks like a goner.

Risa Sibbitt wrote:3. If a red headed woodpecker is going up and down the tree (different tree I'm referring to), is that an ominous sign of tree death to come?



Not optimal, but not necessarily any sort of immediate death knell; are they boring numerous holes, or just tapping and then moving one? There enough woodpeckers here that they are often spotted on a generally healthy tree investigating things, but they never spend too long there.

There are also some big cedars on my parents land that are riddled with massive pileated woodpecker holes, the woodpeckers have nested in them some years. These trees have soldiered on in that condition, with increasing number of holes, for the last 28 years, and are still very much alive. Plenty of other trees lacking the woodpecker damage have come down in that period, dead and alive.
 
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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A weakened tree will attract all kinds of opportunistic pests and their predators (woodpecker) though what you see now may not be the cause. The sap and woodpecker is probably a clue that something is under the bark.
Search the net for pine pests in your region.
I would cut and burn the whole things as quickly as you can and watch the neighboring trees for signs of the same.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Cutting and burning as firewood is fine. It would probably not help,  to cut the tree and burn it outside as a means of controlling pests. The majority of things that will attack a tree,  are endemic in the environment. Weaker trees fall victim.  The best we can do,  is provide a healthy environment and then each individual specimen must fend for itself.
..........
 I'm glad Dillon mentioned that the pileated woodpecker may be nesting. My largest cedar tree has developed a dead top and a pair of pileated woodpeckers have been there regularly. I was thinking of climbing up there and knocking the top off, so that I could use the wood before it rots. Instead,  I will get the cedar that I need from paid tree jobs in the city, and I'll leave this tree alone for the foreseeable future.

Give Dillon a thumbs up.
 
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The moths are probably Douglas-fir tussock moths or other moth and the caterpillars of these moths feed on the soft parts of the tree. This feeding often weakens the tree making it easier for fungi and bark beetles to invade and begin further killing the tree. The woodpecker probably knows the larva is under the tree bark and is looking for a tasty meal. In a sense the woodpecker is helping the tree by eating the caterpillars and larva.

I noticed a similar situation here in NC on one of my trees. The tree looks like it is ringed with holes and damaged bark but it keeps on living and putting out new growth. Its been about 7 years and eventually the tree will die. As long as the falling of the tree is not a hazard to anyone I would let it go naturally.
 
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