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Trees Can Talk

Cupping leaves is a clue to problems

Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A

With trees can talk. They say “Read my leaves”. A tree can tell us “I am healthy, full of energy, and look at me grow”. These traits can be visually observed in the quality and size, colour, shape of the leaves and level of seed production. Each tree has a typical or ideal growth rate in our region. We can assess growth patterns for the current and as many as four previous years to determine changes that contribute to the condition today. We factor in things like environmental conditions and growing environment. Trees tell us “they are having a bad year” through their leaves too. Wilting, cupping and stunted leaf size are all symptoms of a tree health care issue. Many conditions are slow to present and what seemed fine before – can suddenly seem like a crisis – even though it has been progressive. We utilize our extensive diagnostic skills to identify the problem, determine the cause and therefore can recommend a program of care.

Irregular bark patterns

How can you tell what’s wrong in the winter you ask? Twigs and trunk tell stories year round. We look for growth rate, discoloration, distortion and insect damage and insect egg laying. Each one is a piece in the plant health care puzzle.

The best way to prevent problems is to be observant of subtle changes and have a plant health care program. This doesn’t mean spraying for bugs after they are devouring your leaves – it is looking for indicators and being proactive to prevent them. Establishing a routine pruning plan can address problems in the early stages and eliminate weak branches, increase air flow, remove infected limbs and train the tree to grow around and within the space it is growing. Adjusting your watering habits to suit the size and species of tree is a simple change you can make to keep your trees healthy. While I may not know Spanish or French, I speak tree.

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