Diseases in Scarlet Oak Trees

The scarlet oak tree is a massive and vigorously growing tree that can reach mature heights up to 75 feet. It develops a naturally rounded crown with rich green, ovate foliage that turns to showy red hues in the fall. The scarlet oak thrives in full sunlight and has a moderate drought tolerance. Though scarlet oak trees are resistant to verticillium wilt, they are susceptible to several diseases, some of which can prove to be fatal to these majestic trees.

Oak Wilt

Oak wilt is a fatal fungal disease that attacks the vascular system of the oak tree. Scarlet oak trees that are infected with oak wilt will experience immediate affects that include foliage discoloration, wilt and curl, and have a water-soaked appearance in the leaves. Progression of the disease results in heavy defoliation of both young and old leaves. Generally, oak wilt kills the scarlet oak tree within a year of infection. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports no known cure.

Heart Rot

Heart rot fungal disease is a wood decaying disease. It infects the scarlet oak's woody areas through open wounds. The disease penetrates the wood and decays it on the inside, giving external clues by growing cankers near the point of infection. Heart rot only infects weakened trees that have lost their vigorous growth rate. The disease can be controlled by maintaining the scarlet tree's vigorous growth with proper irrigation and fertilization. Infected areas should be pruned away. Severely infected trees will become hollow and structurally unsound, and should be removed.

Oak Anthracnose

Oak anthracnose, or oak wilt, infects the appendages, foliage and fruit of the scarlet oak tree. This disease is transported by fungal spores that germinate on tender leaf tissue. The infected scarlet will develop deadened spots, blotches and lesions on its foliage. New shoots will appear distorted and twigs become girdled. The tree will experience dieback, growth stunt and premature defoliation. Severely infected trees will develop cankers that girdle the trunk and branches. Oak anthracnose can be controlled with the pruning of infected areas, in combination with a fungicidal treatment that is designed for the disease.

Shoestring Root Rot

Shoestring root rot is a soil-borne fungal disease that thrives in and around the soil near previously infected roots. The disease is prevalent around tree stumps, and can be spread from one tree to another when the roots come in contact with one another. Infected trees will develop a clumping growth of mushrooms just above the infected roots. The scarlet oak will experience growth stunt and loss of vigor when infected with this disease. There are no treatments or cures for shoestring root rot. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that infected trees, including stumps and roots, be removed to prevent further outbreak.

Keywords: shoestring root rot, scarlet oak diseases, oak wilt

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.