What Causes a Tree To Die?

Trees bring us many benefits, from supplying oxygen to providing food, giving shade, and beautifying properties. It’s understandable that you’d want your trees to live forever. However, while some trees like redwoods live up to 5,000 years, they’ll still die eventually. 

What causes a tree to die? Generally, tree death results from anything that hampers its ability to perform functions that enable it to survive. 

In this post, Tree Pros delves deeper into common reasons trees die. As a reputable tree removal company in Clarksville, MD, they’ve seen it all.

what causes a tree to die

Disease and Insect Infestation 

Various diseases can kill your trees, but oak wilt, anthracnose, and armillaria root rot are the deadliest ones. These pathogens often attack trees through leaves, bark wounds, and roots, leading to symptoms like wilting tree leaves. If you don’t address them early enough, they can damage your tree’s vascular system.

Trees under stress from disease or environmental challenges will often attract harmful insects. Not only will they kill your tree directly, but they also spread harmful fungal diseases to other nearby trees. An insect may also bore into your tree’s cambial layer for nesting activities or food or defoliate the tree to its death. 

Harsh Environmental Conditions

The conditions of the area where you plant your tree will determine the environmental stressors it will experience. If you plant a drought-sensitive tree in a dry area, it may die from drought stress. This incompatible environment may also make the tree more vulnerable to other life-threatening factors, like diseases and pests. 

Other harsh environmental conditions that can cause tree death include salty soils, poorly drained soils, soil compaction, and air pollution. Before planting trees, it pays to understand their genetic tolerance to various environmental conditions.


Of course, you can’t talk about what causes a tree to die without mentioning catastrophic events. In many cases, trees don’t die but suffer damage to the point of losing their vitality. Diseases and insects will then have a field day, thanks to the tree’s reduced resistance.

Forest fires and tornado-strength winds also destroy thousands of trees along their paths. Any floods that take a while to recede can cause severe root damage, which is another common reason for tree death. 

Old Age

When trees attain maturity, they start dying slowly over many years. This process can even take centuries for long-lived tree species. 

Upon maturity, the tree’s ability to fend for itself diminishes, and it loses significant foliage, which hampers hydration and food production. The tree may develop fresh, immature branches (epicormic sprouts) in an effort to maintain its vigor. Sadly, these branches are insufficient to support life for prolonged periods, and the tree will most likely die.

Contact Your Local Tree Experts for Assistance

Now that you know what causes a tree to die, you may need help to save your trees! Why not call Tree Pros, a trusted local arborist? We provide a wide range of services, such as:

  • Tree removal
  • Stump grinding
  • Tree pruning and trimming

So, contact Tree Pros at (410) 771-1717 for a free estimate. You can also ask us more about the signs of a dying tree and what to do about it.


Contact Us Today for More Info!

(410) 771-1717

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