Common Tree Diseases In Tallahassee

By Tree Expert Codey Stout
Published On

Want to know how to treat common tree diseases in Tallahassee? We’re here to help. In this guide, we cover:

  • How to handle common tree diseases in Tallahassee
  • Tips for proper tree growth in Florida
  • How to prevent tree diseases in Tallahassee

And much more!

Common Tree Diseases In Tallahassee

Read below for the best advice for keeping your trees in top shape.

What Are Some Common Tree Diseases In Tallahassee?

Your options for tree growing in Tallahassee are virtually limitless. From shade trees to fruit trees, there aren’t many tree varieties that won’t grow in this mostly warm area that gets slightly chilled during the winter months. 

But with the excess humidity in Tallahassee comes fungal illnesses that can potentially be devastating if not taken care of. The first step in proper tree care for the Tallahassee area is education. 

If you can learn to identify common diseases yourself, you will be one step ahead of saving your sick trees. 

If you find your tree is showing signs of diseases, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Tallahassee tree specialists so we can give your tree a fighting chance at survival.

Below are a few tree diseases you might encounter in Tallahassee.


Dieback syndrome is a disease with symptoms described as a gradual decline or reduction in a tree’s vigor or growth.


Insect infestations like the Southern Pine Beetle in Tallahassee are prominent and preventative measures should be taken.


Just like us humans, trees get fungal canker sores that destroy sections of the bark on the trunk or larger branches.

There are three different types of cankers to be aware of according to Cornell University:

Diffuse cankers

Because they grow quickly, diffuse cankers are said to be lethal to the tree if left unattended, so it’s important to remove any affected branches as soon as possible. 

Cytospora and Hypoxylon are two types of diffuse cankers. 

Target-shaped cankers

Target-shaped cankers grow slower than diffuse cankers and typically strike during the fall and winter when the tree is less active. 

During the growing season, strong trees respond by forming callus tissues to counteract the fungus, and this counterreaction results in a target shape on the trunk of the tree.

Wound cankers

Wound cankers are injuries incurred typically by defoliation (mostly lawn mowers and other yard equipment) on the base of the tree. 

We suggest creating a barrier between the grass and the tree trunk (you could use gravel or bark) to create space and avoid knocking the tree around while performing yard work.

Dutch Elm Disease

The American Phytopathological Society states that the Dutch Elm Disease is called such because it was first identified in the Netherlands in 1921. American Elms are large trees said to be especially susceptible to this disease, so learning how to identify symptoms is a key step in prevention for elm tree owners.

This disease is a vascular wilt disease that yellows leaves on individual branches. Watch for this illness in certain areas like the top of the tree first where you might see the leaves curl up and die. 

The APS also points out that trees infected with this disease in early spring can end up dead by winter time if the issue isn’t addressed.

This interesting fungal disease is complex in nature, and it starts with bark beetles laying eggs under the bark of recently dead trees. Once the beetle offspring appears, it carries fungus from the elm bark tunnels to other live trees where they feed in between twig crotches causing the leaves to wilt. 

Stem Disease

Stem decay, or stem disease is a mushroom/fungal decay that originates in the stems of living trees. It’s especially important to know about stem disease in trees because it is said by Forest Pathology to be a leading cause of not only tree mortality that decreases wildlife habitat but also economic loss.

In an urban setting, stem diseases also cause tree hazards due to the provoking of mechanical failure. Stem diseases can be classified into two different types:

Heart Rot

Stem decays, or any decay stemming from the central dead wood of a live tree, are typically called heart rots. 

Sap Rot

Sap rot mostly decays the sapwood of the tree (i.e., if the wound removes bark from the tree).

Basically, sap rot decays the tree bark but remains mostly on the surface while heart rot invades the heartwood of the tree. Stem diseases also occur in cycles of 6+ months per year, and their spores are carried long distances by the wind.

Root Disease/Root Rot

Fungal root diseases like armillaria that attack root systems are often fatal, and symptoms include branch dieback, wilting branches, and stunted growth.

Whether you’re in Red Bay Alabama or the Tallahassee Florida forest, or any other place in the world, tree root disease is a common occurrence, and there are typically two different classifications of root diseases:

Primary pathogens

Primary pathogens are root diseases with the power to attack and kill healthy trees.

Opportunistic pathogens

Opportunistic pathogens kill weak or sick/mature trees, hence the name.

Oak Wilt

Ceratocystis fagacearum, or oak wilt, is a vascular system disease caused by fungus-carrying beetles that feed on sap from fresh wounds.

Once a tree gets infected with oak wilt, it responds by plugging cells with self-produced tyloses (a gummy substance) resulting in wilted branches.

Obviously, this is a disease that plagues oak trees, and it’s extremely important to keep an eye out for this disease because it can kill red and pin oak trees in a short period of just 4 to 6 weeks if unidentified.

Oak wilt is sometimes difficult to properly diagnose, and Iowa State University suggests submitting a plant sample to a laboratory. A proper sample consists of multiple branches at least 1-inch in diameter and 6-12 inches in length.

Oak wilt can also be caused by fungus through root grafts, according to ISU, and the Florida Department of Agriculture points out that most oak wilt cases are diagnosed during the hot summer months.

How To Treat Common Tree Diseases In Tallahassee?

Luckily, there are many different treatments for common tree diseases that can help to stop the progression of disease and sometimes reverse it altogether.


The ideal solution for treating diseases is prevention. Fungicides are commonly sprayed onto naturally-occurring fungus to prevent fungal diseases from slowly (or quickly) deteriorating tree roots.


Proper tree fertilization is a great way to keep trees healthy and happy.

According to the Morton Arboretum, fertilizer maintains trees in a vigorous condition for increased resistance to insects and diseases. Consult a tree care expert for assistance in proper fertilization.


Effective pruning can rid trees of disease, especially in more mature trees. In fact, the University of Florida suggests a preventative pruning program to help eliminate diseases before they happen.

However, pruning is best done by our tree specialists as improper pruning can damage a tree (and sometimes kill it entirely).

What Causes Tree Diseases In Tallahassee?

Of course every tree disease is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing disease. That said, there are several key factors that contribute to disease in trees more often.


Drought stress promotes disease in plants in more ways than one. For one, lack of water reduces a tree’s ability to produce defensive chemicals to fight off or “outgrow” the disease, and it also alters the plant’s physiology, rendering it more susceptible to illness.

Stem damage

When a tree gets damaged, it creates a pathway for disease to enter. For example, pruning a tree too close to the trunk can create un-repairable damage to a tree–that’s why you should always leave a few inches of branch when pruning–or even better–hire a tree professional from Tree Triage to help you care for your trees the right way.


Much like a drought, overcrowding weakens a tree because it doesn’t get the nutrients and water it needs from the soil. When planting multiple trees in Tallahassee, it’s vital to separate them from each other at the recommended spacing, so the trees don’t have to compete with each other for nutrients, sunlight, and moisture.


Most Armillaria, Ganoderma, Phytophthora and other naturally occurring root diseases feed on and deteriorate sapwood.

How Can You Prevent Tree Diseases In Tallahassee?

Homeowners: the best way to avoid these common tree diseases is by preventing them altogether. DIY tree maintenance is no easy task, but you have better chances at success if you research disease prevention and proper maintenance/planting for each individual tree species on your property.

Proper Tree Care

Just like humans, trees who are properly cared for are less susceptible to illness. Each tree species requires proper care specific to growing preferences. For example, a poplar tree likes wet and acidic soil while other maple trees tend to grow better in a more alkaline soil.

It’s important to know what soil conditions and other variables/factors your trees require to provide them with the healthiest living situation possible. Simply put, the more you study what your specific tree needs, the better chance you can avoid the injury or death of trees on your property.


Don’t forget that some decay/disease can simply be removed from the tree. The OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources points out that the quicker tree illnesses are identified, the more effective efforts will be in preventing the disease from spreading further into the tree.

Frequent Monitoring

As stated above, the quicker diseases can be identified, the better. Aside from constantly inspecting trees for disease, it’s important to be able to identify small problems before they happen. Linked here are some inspection tips for proper inspection.

Also, if you’re on public land and notice unhealthy pine trees, don’t hesitate to contact the forest service to have a forestry expert take a look.

Hiring a Tree Care Expert

We highly recommend hiring a tree care expert like Tree Triage from the Tallahassee area to help you treat and prevent tree diseases. Here are a few other advantages to hiring a tree expert.

When Should You Call A Tree Growing Expert?

Because most tree diseases require a certified arborist to properly diagnose, you should always have a tree growing expert from Tree Triage on hand to assist you in monitoring tree health if there are a large number of trees on your property.

Here are a few other ways one of our tree growing experts can help you in the Tallahassee area.


Hire a tree pro from Tree Triage to help you keep your trees trimmed and healthy.

Tree permits

When you hire a tree expert in Tallahassee, they help you by taking care of tree permits and other legal requirements.

Soil testing/Fertilizing

Remember, trees grow best and resist disease when their soil level has its preferred pH levels.

Tree removal

Hiring a tree service (not a growing expert) for tree removal is easier because the pros reduce dangerous risks.


Trees more susceptible to or suffering from diseases may need to be transplanted.

Lastly, don’t forget to plant native trees in Tallahassee for the best results. Native trees promote biodiversity and provide local animals like insects, birds, and squirrels- not to mention the millions of dollars spent by the local government each year to remove annoying invasive species.

Any questions?

Be sure to hit us with all your Tallahassee tree questions on our Tree Triage home page!

Meet Your Tree Expert

Codey Stout

Codey Stout is the operations manager for Tree Triage and has years of experience removing trees. His expertise has been featured in publications like Yahoo, The Family Handyman, Homes & Gardens, and many more. The only thing Codey likes doing more than removing intrusive trees, is removing unsightly stumps.
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