Trees have a powerful vascular system within their trunks and branches. Two sets of tubular structures make up this system: phloem and xylem. Together, these two convey fluids containing essential water and nutrients to every part of the tree.

So you can imagine that if something goes wrong with the vascular system, some or all of the tree could suffer the effects of dehydration or malnutrition. In some cases, these problems can mean you need a branch or an entire tree removed. Here are five of the vascular system problems that could cause these issues.

1. Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that doesn’t affect just trees but also many other types of plants in the world. It tends to be found in the soil, so any tree on your property could be affected if the disease is in your area. However, it tends to affect some types of trees and plants more than others.

When your tree has Verticillium Wilt, its vascular tubes get plugged up with the growth of the fungus and it can’t transport fluids and nutrients efficiently. In some cases, this could kill the tree, requiring removal. In other cases, only one section of the tree or a few branches may be seriously affected and need to be removed.

2. Tree Girdling 

If someone leaves a tightly tied wire or rope around your tree’s trunk or branch, the tree’s bark can pinch inward as the tree tries to grow outward. Since the vascular system is just under the outer surface, it may eventually be cut off in that spot, and the tree or branch may even die from the girdling effect.

A faulty root system with a girdling root can also cause this potentially fatal problem, as can stripping the bark off in a ring around the trunk. 

3. Root Rot Diseases

Several types of fungus can cause root rot diseases in trees and other plants. Root rot, such as Phytophthora root rot, is another issue that can physically damage the tree’s vascular system. Unlike Verticillium wilt, which attacks vascular structures throughout the trunk and branches, root rot diseases mainly attack those in the tree’s root system. 

Root rot damage may spread up to the area of the trunk around ground level. Since the condition keeps the tree’s roots from transporting needed fluids and nutrients to the trunk, the tree can die of this problem and may eventually need removal.

4. Dutch Elm Disease

You may have heard of Dutch elm disease as a blight that wiped out many elms in the 20th century and is still a problem today. If so, you realize it’s an extremely serious condition. Spread by beetles, this fungal disease kills off trees by triggering a defensive response that ends up blocking the tree’s vascular system, predictably causing wilt and eventual death.

Fortunately for most homeowners, only elms tend to be susceptible to this problem. And in fact, only native elms are highly susceptible; if you have a Chinese, Japanese, or Siberian Elm, you’re less likely to have serious problems with the disease.

5. Slime Flux

This evocatively named tree condition is caused by bacterial infection inside the tree’s vascular system. Due to the bacterial growth, the sap may expand too much and ooze out of the trunk or branch. Typically, treatment involves supporting the tree’s overall health and protecting it from secondary infections and pests.

Sometimes slime flux can cause enough damage that some portion of the tree may need to be removed. In an especially bad case, it may kill the tree. So if you notice your tree oozing, be sure to contact your tree services company for diagnosis and treatment.

As you can see, your tree’s vascular system is essential to keeping the tree as a whole (as well as individual branches) healthy and alive. If you suspect that your tree is having one of these vascular system problems or a similar issue, get in touch with Knuckleheads Tree Service today, and we’ll help you determine if the problem is treatable.

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