Everywhere we look, ornamental trees are under attack here in southern Louisiana. It’s quite concerning to say the least.

Over the last five years, we have witnessed the large majority of our prized Canary palms dying in the New Orleans Mid-City area from Texas Palm Decline.

Then this summer, we noticed that Crepe myrtles are suffering badly with a particularly nasty case of a disease called Cercospora. Crepe myrtles get a mild case of it every year, but this year it’s easily the worst we’ve ever seen. Also, the destructive crepe myrtle scale appeared on various varieties of Crepes throughout the City.

And most recently, we’ve observed a dangerous threat to our local Ginkgo Biloba trees.

Warning Signs of Ginkgo Tree Disease

Normally this time of the year Ginkgo trees foliage is a relatively pure green color in appearance. But this year, the trees look peculiar.

The lack of foliage on them jumps out – almost like a skeleton tree where you can see all of the branches and twigs, almost a winter version in appearance.

This is definitely atypical for this time of year.

Upon closer inspection, we noticed leaves cupping and some burn on the foliage. This is definitely not normal.

And the more we looked around, we started noticing this disease on every Ginkgo in the city!

You read that right… EVERY Ginkgo we saw in metro New Orleans seemed to have it.  Except 1.

We found 1 healthy tree which just happened to be planted in a large pot, so it hadn’t been planted in the ground and exposed to local soil conditions. Is this a clue?

Theories on Rampant Local Tree Disease

In 40 years of serving local Louisiana trees, you learn a few things. And the number of species we see under attack by disease this year is not an accident.

Ornamental trees like palms, crepe myrtles and Ginkgo are not native to our area. They’re imported. Transplanted. So they don’t occur here naturally.

Also, we’ve seen tangible changes in our local conditions due to heavy rainfall and erratic, atypical temperatures throughout the year.

We’re even seeing an all-out attack on lawns everywhere in the form of brown patch and webworm.

Suggestions for Saving Your Trees

However, if your trees are still healthy, there are a few steps you can take to help keep them healthy despite what’s going on around them:

  • Avoid mass planting (5 or more) Ginkgo trees for the immediate future
  • Make sure they’re planted in a well-drained site with sandy soil or on a hill (hills as defined by southern Louisiana standards)
  • Turn off water if you’re irrigating

Don’t Wait Too Long Before Taking Action

We certainly don’t want to sound alarmist by sharing news like this with other professionals in the Green Industry. However, our job as professional arborists is to protect and preserve our local tree population. Also, we want you to be able to responsibly inform your customers to avoid investing in trees which may not live.

If you’ve noticed active disease on your trees, it’s time to evaluate your treatment options as soon as possible. We are currently experimenting with fungicides on the Ginkgo Trees to see if we can save them. We’re not sure if this will work yet as we’re still in the testing phases.

Contact us to request a consultation if you’re not sure whether your trees are affected yet.

At Bayou Tree Service, we are often contacted by concerned tree owners when they notice something different or “off” about their trees. That’s where regular tree maintenance comes in!

One of the most common trees that we get questions about this time of year are actually Crepe Myrtles! 

Crepe Myrtles are among the most popular trees decorating homes, commercial, municipal and educational landscapes in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and throughout the southeastern United States. With their signature flowers that bloom in whites, pinks and reds, they are a beautiful sight to behold in southern Louisiana’s hot summer months.

But, have you ever noticed that your Crepe Myrtles’ leaves have black spots, or are changing colors or shedding before the autumn hits?

Cercospora on crape myrtle

Image Credit: YouTube

If this is happening to your crepe myrtle trees, are they still healthy? 

What Are Those Black Spots?

If you’re noticing black spots on the leaves of your Crepe Myrtles, your trees are experiencing a disease called Cercospora.

Initially displaying dark spots, these leaves eventually turn yellow, orange or red and fall off your trees, well before the hot Louisiana temperatures have dropped and fall has begun. While Cercospora is a known disease of Crepe Myrtle trees, you need not worry.

What Can You Do?

First, if you’ve noticed these telltale signs of Cercospora, the disease has already taken ahold of your tree. There is no reversing it, not even by spraying your trees.

In fact, if a Crepe Myrtle tree owner truly wanted to control Cercospora, he or she would need to spray the tree every 7 to 10 days with a fungicide, from early summer into the fall. That’s simply too much tree maintenance for most Crepe Myrtle owners, especially considering how many of these beauties can be found across our local landscape.

Second, even though Cercospora may cause some unsightly discoloration of your Crepe Myrtle tree leaves, it is not a life-threatening disease.

Trees that are affected with Cercospora can be expected to reach their normal lifespan of more than 50 years!

Third, heavy summer rain showers are known to cause more and more cases of Cercospora in Crepe Myrtle trees. And we all know just how much rain we get in the summer in Louisiana!

You Can Relax 😊

The simple fact is, there’s really nothing feasible or worthwhile that you can do to prevent Cercospora from infecting your tree, but since it isn’t life threatening, it truly isn’t something to worry about.

And think about it. With so many Crepe Myrtles planted across the southeastern United States, they are a reliable, long-living tree, despite their tendency to become infected with Cercospora.

If you have a Crepe Myrtle that is displaying another issue, or other types of trees that you think may be diseased, we are happy to inspect them. Call Bayou Tree Service today at (504) 608-0712 in New Orleans, or in Baton Rouge (225) 414-4076.

It’s June here in southern Louisiana and most of us know the drill.

✓ Listen to hurricane gurus guess wrong about the number of storms.
✓ Check battery stockpiles.
✓ Grab some extra nonperishable food & water supplies.
✓ Put your hands on important documents…insurance, wills, photographs, etc.
✓ Get extra gas in the spare cans for the generator.
✓ Inspect your trees.

Wait…what?  Inspect your trees?

Yes…inspect your trees.

That is, as long as you don’t want to return home from a storm to find branches damaged or the tree completely uprooted and possibly lying on your home or business.

Why Tree Inspections Are Critical This Time of Year

We’re not trying to alarm anyone, but taking a few minutes to inspect your trees and yard now could be the difference between your trees surviving a storm unharmed and having potentially serious damage or losses.

We know because we’ve seen it happen over and over again.

Hurricanes and strong storms bring sustained high winds, excess water and even flooding. If your trees have been compromised in any way, chances are these extreme elements will push the tree over the edge.

For instance, if your trees are in a soggy area, a few days of heavy rain or a flood could make the ground weak enough to completely uproot a tree.  If the ground is saturated for a long period of time (even a couple of days), root traction decreases and the tree can potentially fall over.

Here’s a quick guide for both homeowners and businesses/organizations when it comes to tree preparedness. Please note that these checklists are designed to educate and raise awareness, but nothing should substitute for an inspection from a professional arborist if you have questions or concerns!

Homeowner Pre-Storm Checklist:

  • Take a look at large trees near your house. If you have palm trees or smaller species like crepe myrtles you don’t have to worry as much about those. Also, healthy Live Oaks are typically not at risk for wind or storm damage.
  • Take into account the age & history of the tree. If the tree has a history of limb failure or disease, have it inspected as it would be considered high risk for wind or storm damage
  • Think about any changes in drainage patterns in your yard such as standing water sitting under the tree. Standing water can cause root loss and rotting, potentially making the tree unstable and at risk of losing anchorage.
  • Find out if water tables have changed either higher or lower, especially near bayous. Even a change of a few inches can impact your trees.
  • Look for damage to roots from things like a new curb, sidewalk, pipes or construction. Also keep an eye out for mushrooms growing on a root, limb or trunk as that may indicate decay or a compromised root system.

Commercial Pre-Storm Checklist:

Generally speaking, businesses, schools and government organizations are at higher risk when it comes to trees as there are often lots of people congregating under their trees every day. The safety of your patrons, students and employees should always be priority #1 when it comes to tree maintenance!

  • Remember that every tree has potential liability!
  • Businesses should attempt to monitor & measure the risk & prevent damage before it happens.
  • Monitor activity under the tree and inspect the tree for structural stability.

And finally, regardless of whether you own a home or business, it’s best to call an arborist for a professional inspection of your trees. You’ll be glad you did!

If you drive around metro New Orleans or Baton Rouge, or if you have palm trees in your yard, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed our local palm trees don’t look so hot.Their leaves (or frond as we call them) are brown and droopy. Their crowns are often flat seem to have no life.That’s because they’re dying – right before our eyes.

The largest and most majestic, Canary Island Date Palms, have been here since the 1800s and they’re vanishing. And the worst part is there’s not much we can do about it.

Texas Palm Decline Impact on Local Louisiana Palms

We first noticed canary palms declining about two years after Katrina in the mid-city area of  New Orleans, particular City Park and Carrollton Ave. Almost all of the 100 or so Canary palms in that area are now now infected or dead.

After that, we noticed our beloved canary palms and Phoenix dactylifera (date palms) were turning brown and dying all over our service area – from NOLA to Baton Rouge.

The talk in the arborists world was about “Texas Palm Decline”.  Don’t get mad at Texas, it’s not their fault. It’s just where it was noticed first.

The “decline” is a result of a bacterial infection. No one is quite sure how the bacteria is transmitted. There’s no apparent cure. It’s almost like a bad zombie movie…

The symptoms are no or low fruit production. Also, the lower fronds droop to a point where there is a gap between horizontal fronds and the more upright.

There is no proven cure or preventative treatment. We can suppress the decline for a time with an antibiotic, but it never goes away and you have to keep the tree on it for the remainder of it’s life. But as soon as you stop the antibiotic, the tree dies.

At that point, the best we can do is remove the infected palms immediately and properly dispose them off site to help prevent spread of disease.

Replacing Our Favorite Palms with…What?

Canaries and date palms (dacs) are by far the most popular here in southern Louisiana. But with palm decline decimating these species, should you continue to plant them?

Our professional advice is no. Don’t do it.

Why spend $5k, $10k or up to $60k to buy these trees knowing they’re going to die sooner rather than later?

As far as large majestic palms, Sylvester palm appears to be resistant to decline at this writing.

But knowing how quickly this disease has hit the other palms, we recommend looking at other tree species as well before making a decision.

If you’re grieving the loss of your palm trees or weighing your options about what to plant, please call us to request a consultation. Our team of Louisiana certified arborists will help you evaluate your options.

Living in southern Louisiana is truly a gift. Mild winters. Red beans on Mondays. The Saints. LSU.But sometimes living here is frustrating. Hurricanes. Tropical heat. Termites.This time of year termites are EVERYWHERE in southern Louisiana!

They’re swarming around lights at night. Splattering on your windshield during the day. Getting whisked out of your pool in the mornings.

With the non-winter we just had, the termites are active earlier than usual so now is the time to start looking for signs of trouble in your yard.

Termites Damage More than Just Homes

The pest control guys advertise everywhere about protecting your home from termite damage.  And while termites do untold amounts of damage to homes in southern Louisiana, they also inflict tremendous harm on our local tree population.

Most people know that termites feast on “dead” wood, such as the wood used to build homes. However, our most common local termites, the Formosans, eat live trees as well. And they love our local Louisiana trees!

In fact, a USDA study found that approximately 30% of the live oaks in New Orleans were infested with Formosan termites.

What Attracts Termites To Certain Trees?

One word – distress.  A tree under distress is a tree which is especially vulnerable to all types of potential threats including disease, pests and termites.

Many things can stress a tree including lack of water and poor soil conditions. It’s also common here in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to have trees distressed due to damage from a storm.

Keeping Termites Away

Termite prevention can be difficult, but it is worth the effort.

If you’ve had termites in or near your home, it’s a good idea to have your trees inspected as those termites may have traveled underground to nearby trees via their root systems.

If you’ve never had termite problems in your home, the name of the game is prevention, and regular inspections are key to detecting problems early on.

In particular, keep an eye around the base of trees as termites there will be easy to spot.

Also watch for mud trails starting at the ground, shelter tubes along the trunk of the tree and swarm castles at limb scars.

Image Credit: LSU Ag Center


Image Credit: LSU Ag Center

Saving Trees with Termite Damage

If you suspect one of your trees may have termites or you see damage similar to the images above, we recommend calling a professional arborist for an inspection.

Why an arborist and not your termite control company?

Termite control operators are experts treat termites within your home or business. But treating a tree with termites is an entirely different matter. In certain cases your pest control company may not even treat trees or offer a warranty to cover their work on trees.

Don’t worry. We work closely with termite control companies to make sure the entire area around the tree, home (or business) is treated effectively. This team approach ensures the best possible outcome.

The process always starts with an inspection and thorough evaluation of the overall health of the tree and assessing level of termite infestation. Post treatment, regular follow up inspections are necessary to keep an eye on the progress of the tree as it heals.

If you have termites in your local southern Louisiana trees, please contact us to schedule a free inspection.

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