What is a Tree Canker & What Tree Diseases Cause It?

Tree cankers are known for being easy to spot due to how misshapen and unsightly they can make a branch or trunk look compared to the rest of the foliage. But the reason behind them can be harder to pin down and more difficult to diagnose.

Luckily for those dealing with such problems, Safari Tree has plenty of experts who can break down the question of what a tree canker is and what can cause this to appear on your trees.

What Is A Tree Canker?

Tree cankers are dead areas of bark found on a tree’s trunk, branches, or twigs that look sunken and discolored. And while several different outside agents can cause it, the canker will open the tree up to further bacterial and fungal issues. Insects will also pounce on any weaknesses found in the bark and can cause further damage to this area.

The severity of tree cankers can range from minor to severe. In some cases, cankers may remain small and have little effect on the tree’s overall health. However, cankers tend to affect trees already weakened by another ailment, such as poor soil nutrition, drought, or temperature issues, at a higher rate. At the same time, healthier trees have a much better chance of avoiding severe damage.

Hardwoods are known to be more adversely affected by canker diseases than conifers, but even established shade trees or young fruit trees can be weakened over time by untreated or spreading cankers. In more severe cases, cankers can grow larger and spread, causing the tree to become stunted, weakened, and eventually die.

Fruit Tree with Apples

What Tree Diseases Cause Cankers?

Cankers are usually caused by fungal infections entering a tree due to physical damage or pest infestations. In severe cases, tree cankers can cause significant harm to the tree’s overall health and structure and even lead to its death.

Fungal infections are the most common cause of tree cankers and spread through various fungi, including Botryosphaeria, Nectria, Phomopsis, and Sclerotinia. These infections enter the tree through wounds in the bark, blocking the flow of water and nutrients, causing the bark to die and form a canker. Common cankers include beech bark disease, Phomopsis juniper canker disease, chestnut blight, and walnut canker disease.

Physical damage leaves openings for infection, which can also happen over time through pests and routine garden maintenance. Some insects will cause extensive damage to a tree’s bark by boring into the tree and laying eggs, hatching into larvae that feed on the tree’s sapwood. Over time, this feeding weakens the tree, causing it to develop cankers.

Preventing Tree Cankers

To prevent tree cankers, keeping them healthy and free from stress is essential. This will include keeping up a watering regime, fertilization, and pruning to encourage vigorous growth. In addition, trees should be protected from physical damage, and wounds should be treated promptly to prevent infection.

If a tree does develop cankers, several steps can be taken to help it recover. In some cases, pruning the affected area may be all that’s necessary. However, fungicides may be needed in more severe cases to control the infection. If the tree cankers become too severe, the tree will need to be removed.

Planting trees native to your region will help them become established quicker and reduce the risk of cankers and disease. Preventing cankers is the best policy when planning for future maintenance, and this means establishing a sensible plan to avoid your trees from overexposure and stress.

Let Safari Tree Help With Your Tree Maintenance

We can help with your essential yard maintenance decisions and determine how best to protect your trees year-round from the worst pests and diseases. To get a free estimate, contact Safari Tree today.

What Are Spotted Lanternflies & Should You Get Rid Of Them?

Spotted Lanternflies (SLF) might be pretty to look at, but their invasive nature can cause significant issues to those gardeners looking to watch their foliage flourish in Spring. The Planthopper has made its way from Asia during the last decade, and its lifecycle is known to stress trees and cause localized branch damage.

What Are Lanternflies?

Spotted Lanternflies first appeared in Michigan in 2021, becoming the latest invasive species to deal with when maintaining your yard. The Spotted Lanternfly hails from China and feeds on several tree types, including fruit-bearing and woody variants. Warnings have already been issued concerning the impact they can have on nursery plants, grapevines, and trees.

The SLF feeding process causes issues for many plants, some of which will be found in your garden. The good news is that while SLF are known to stress various kinds of vegetation, they don’t directly kill plants off and are considered a nuisance pest. However, while the problem has been flagged at a Federal level, Lanternflies aren’t expected to go away soon.

Why Are Lanternflies A Problem?

The main issue with the Lanternfly lifecycle is how it feeds and the impact that it can have on the plants in your yard. Sucking sap and secreting a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew causes dramatic health issues for trees and is known to weaken them over the long term. Other issues flagged include the increased risk of mold growth and attracting other nuisance pests to your backyard.

No one wants to see more yellow jackets, flies, and ants in their garden when they’re hoping to spend more time outside and enjoy the incoming warm weather. You should also consider the plants that Lanternflies can impact most. The list includes those mentioned above, as well as Black Walnut, Maple, and Tree-of-heaven.

Ornamental and shade trees can also be damaged by the lifecycle of the Lanternfly over an extended period, making it a worthwhile chore to prepare for an increase in these pests in Michigan during 2023. When making plans for the coming months, you should note that Lanternflies are known to feed on over 70 different species, including vegetable, fruit, and herb plants.

How Should I Deal With Lanternflies?

Unfortunately for fed-up gardeners, Lanternflies cannot be prevented from entering a property, and it’s strongly recommended that you monitor your prized plants to ensure they remain healthy. This can be done using traps or through a simple visual inspection, keeping an eye out for honeydew, eggs, or branch damage. The good news is that Lanternfly eggs will be noticeable on the bark of trees between September and November, and insecticidal soap can be sprayed directly on adults and nymphs to help lower the population.

Spotted Lanternflies are known to be less resilient than other pests and can be dealt with without having to use strong insecticides. And without any known natural enemies for SLF to help reduce the population, it will be worth exploring your options for controlling the spread of this pest in the future.

Safari Tree Can Help Protect Your Yard From Pests

Safari Tree can help with your most crucial yard maintenance decisions, including providing preventive measures to avoid incoming bugs and pests. To get a free estimate for your yard, contact Safari Tree today.


What Kills Locust Trees? Diseases And Insects Explained

Locust Trees are popular additions to the gardens of Michigan, offering shade and a beautiful aesthetic for those looking for something a little different in their yard.

But like many of the more unique types of trees in North America, they come with a laundry list of maintenance items to ensure they stay healthy and look their best. At the top of the list are the numerous insects and diseases that can overpower foliage and run rampant if not treated carefully with the right regimen.

Here are some of the most important pests you should watch out for, including one that only just arrived in the region.

Locust Tree Pests & The Insects To Watch Out For

First appearing in the Michigan area in 2021, Lantern Flies are a new hazard for many trees and have become the latest invasive species to deal with.

For those who have yet to run into them, the spotted lanternfly was first found in the United States in 2014. This planthopper hails from China and feeds on several tree types, including fruit-bearing and woody variants. The problem has already been flagged at a Federal level, with warnings in place for the country’s grape, orchard, and logging industries.

Issues the Lanternfly brings include sucking sap and secreting a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This causes dramatic health issues for trees, including the growth of mold. Honeydew is also known for attracting other pests and can be a force multiplier when dealing with nuisance pests in your backyard.

The sticky liquid can also cause an increase in the appearance of yellow jackets, flies, and ants in your garden, which is not something anyone wants to face with warm weather approaching. The good news is that Lanternfly eggs can be spotted on the bark of trees, and insecticidal soap can be sprayed directly on adults and nymphs to help lower the population.

Other bugs to watch out for include Honeylocust plant bugs, which tend to infest trees in late spring. Brown or yellow spotting on the leaves can be an early warning sign of an infestation, and you may also notice injured foliage. Chemical controls can help alleviate this issue, but there are also honeylocust borers to plan for.

Borers are another insect that could affect the health of your Locust Trees. They have earned their name well, as they like to tunnel into the bark of trees during their larval stages, laying eggs in June. Supplemental insecticidal can also be used to control their rapidly growing population.

Many of the different types of pests that will attack your Locust Tree can be controlled with the right treatment. Here are some of the others to look out for:

  • Blister Beetles
  • Cottony Maple Scales
  • Eriophyid Mites
  • Honeylocust Spider Mites
  • Honeylocust Pod Gall Midges

Locust Tree Diseases & Molds

Having dealt with the invasive species that can wreak havoc, you should also be ready to deal with different kinds of fungus. Locust Trees are susceptible to different diseases, with Verticillium Wilt proving one of the deadliest. Entering the tree through the roots, the main issue with this disease is that it remains hard to detect. That is, until you notice leaf curling, yellow or red leaf coloring, and wilting branches. Wilting generally occurs on only one side of the tree.

In the worst cases, a Locust Tree may even die suddenly, leaving you with very few options for salvaging the situation. Luckily, other nasty diseases can be spotted much quicker, including cankers. These present themselves through dead spots appearing on the bark of the trunk and branches.

Cankers decay wood, leaving your tree vulnerable to ice, heavy snow, and extreme winds. The good news is that preventative measures can be used, such as annual fertilization, maintaining suitable soil moisture, and proper watering.

Wet wood is another nasty customer that can make a Locust Tree ooze slime and turn the wood into a yellow-brown color. Left unchecked, the wood will crack during the winter, and the tree’s interior will sustain damage, resulting in splitting and warping.

Let Safari Tree Help Protect Your Garden

We can help with your most important yard maintenance decisions, including providing preventive measures to avoid some of the worst pests listed above. To get a free estimate for your yard, contact Safari Tree today.

Types Of Trees In Michigan: Deciduous

Of all the types of trees in Michigan, the ones that dominate our landscape the most are Deciduous trees. These are trees that lose their leaves after the growing season is complete. They provide us with beauty from early spring to late fall.

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Why Fertilizing Trees In Winter Is Not A Bad Idea

Yep. Fertilizing trees in winter is a thing. It’s often called dormant feeding and it has its advantages. 

Many arborists and landscapers, particularly in the north, fertilize trees and shrubs from late fall through late winter. But some will wait until early spring when they’re actively developing above ground. In either case, the trees are still dormant.

But there are some added benefits to fertilizing trees in winter. It may not be the ideal time of year for you (unless you have a good winter coat). But let’s find out why winter is such a great time to fertilize.

Why Fertilize Trees In Winter?

Fertilizing trees in winter is considered safe for deciduous trees, or trees that lose their leaves at the end of the growing season. By fertilizing when the tree is dormant, you eliminate the risk of leaf burn. 

Spraying water, fertilizer, or chemicals onto plant leaves in hot, sunny conditions is the most common cause of leaf burn (aka leaf scorch). Leaf scorch can happen when the water on the leaf (in the hot sun) acts as a magnifying glass. It can intensify the sunlight that’s reaching the leaf, cause it to overheat, and ultimately burn.

Another reason you may want to fertilize in the winter is if you notice your tree leaves yellowing before they are supposed to. Yellowing leaves could be a sign that the pH level in your soil is off. An easy way to replenish it is through fertilization.

What Type Of Fertilizer Should Be Used?

pH isn’t the only nutrient trees lack from time to time. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient that is required for numerous plant processes. Phosphorus and potassium are also found missing in most soils, so they too should be replenished.

How To Fertilize Trees In Winter

Before you begin, it’s critical to understand how to apply tree fertilizer, especially in the winter. Typically, you’d use a liquid fertilizer around the base of your tree. To determine how far out away from the base you should fertilize, think of it this way. For every inch of trunk diameter at chest height spread your fertilizer around the tree. So, if your chest is 4 feet off the ground, you’ll want to spread in a circular pattern about that large. 

Established trees or mature trees will need more fertilizer than newly planted ones. Getting a soil test done can also help you determine the amount and type of fertilizer that you need. You’ll be able to determine the precise amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium needed for the types of trees you have in your yard.

Another option is to get tree injections. Tree injections are very effective because they provide nutrients directly to the root system. They’re typically part of a fall fertilization plan but are a great option if the ground is already frozen. 

Fertilizing Is An Important Part Of A Tree Care Plan

No matter what time of the year you decide to do it, fertilizing is a critical part of any tree care plan. And Safari Tree’s experts are here to help. Whether it’s laying out an annual schedule for your trees and shrubs, or handling your fertilization needs first-hand. We’d be happy to provide you with a strategy that will keep your yard looking its best. Contact us at any time.

What’s A Good Fall Fertilizer For Trees And Shrubs

Whenever the topic of fertilizer comes up, the first thing that comes to mind is probably your lawn. But your trees and shrubs need nourishment, too, especially before the snow starts flying. And there are many good fall fertilizers for trees and shrubs that you can try.

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Types of Trees In Michigan: Eastern Hemlock

The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is one of the types of trees that are native to Michigan. Hemlocks are characterized by their flat, dark green needles with silvery undertones. Their bark is also deeply grooved their branches are typically described as “drooping”.

This evergreen conifer is not only beautiful, it’s home to many wildlife and can be found in many parts of the United States.

So, let’s take a closer look at the Eastern Hemlock tree, where it likes to grow, and what is threatening its existence.

Eastern Hemlock Facts

Although it’s a native tree to Michigan, the Department of Agriculture says you’ll find Eastern Hemlocks all over North America. It extends from eastern Minnesota to southern Quebec, then through Nova Scotia, before descending via the Appalachian Mountains to reach northern Georgia and Alabama. It grows in various national parks and is the state tree of Pennsylvania.

Local growing conditions determine the size of these trees, but in favorable conditions, they can reach up to 70 ft. in height and spread out up to 35 ft. A Hemlock can stand over 100 feet tall in some places, typically near the Atlantic coast and in the Appalachian Mountains where the trees often reach their greatest height.

It grows into the shape of a pyramid, but one of its most distinctive traits is the dropping nature of its branches. 

Hemlock prefers north-facing slopes of hills and mountains or tucked into ravines where there is more shade and cooler conditions. Mature hemlocks are shade tolerant. They also prefer acidic, well-drained soils that are moist. 

Its pinecones are very small and hang from the tips of new growth of twigs. Other common names of this evergreen include Canada hemlock and hemlock spruce.

Birds Love Hemlock Trees

Numerous bird species prefer hemlocks as nesting trees. They are protected by their tall branches and dense foliage. Kinglets and several other types of warblers, such as Blackburnians and black-throated greens, are among the birds that build their nests on hemlock trees.

type of tree in MichiganFor birds like crossbills and pine siskins, the seed cones are a source of food throughout the winter. Deer like to lie under the branches of hemlock, and porcupines eat its little twigs for breakfast. Where the snow isn’t too deep, they’ll use them as a refuge.

Pests That Threaten Eastern Hemlock

In recent years an invasive pest called woolly adelgid has been terrorizing Eastern Hemlocks. It’s wreaking havoc in areas of Canada and the northeastern United States where hemlock is the main forest tree as well as an ornamental. Researchers believe the wooly adelgid arrived in Michigan on infested nursery stock from northeastern states.

The wooly adelgid is an aphid-like insect that attacks the tree by inserting its long mouthparts at the base of needles. Once it’s attached, it begins to feed on the tree’s stored starches. They will remain in the same spot their whole life, growing into adulthood and continually feeding on the tree. This damages the canopy of the tree by disrupting the flow of nutrients to its twigs and needles. The tree will typically die within 4-10 years.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development continues to verify new detections of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid. They believe the spread occurs in a couple of different ways. The insects can be transported to new locations by wind, birds or mammals coming into contact with an infested branch, or by cars, boats or RVs parked under infested trees.

Protect Your Eastern Hemlock

The Safari Tree pest control package combines killing insects and their larvae by strengthening your tree. If your trees are stronger they’ll be able to survive the pests that do manage to attack. 

We start in the spring by spreading dormant oil on your trees. This will cut down on early insect infestations. We will also fertilize your tree’s deep roots later on in the season. This allows it to thrive all summer long.

In fact, our 7-step tree healthcare program is perfectly designed for Michigan’s four-season climate. If you’re interested in learning more about how Safari Tree can protect the trees in your yard, contact us today

What Causes Spruce Tree Diseases In Michigan?

Spruce tree diseases in Michigan are becoming all too common. From the newly identified fungus, we discovered last year, to an old nemesis like tip blight, it seems the spruce is always under attack. But knowing where these diseases come from, and how to treat your trees if they get sick, can help you keep them in tip-top shape. 

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Types of Trees In Michigan: Tulip Tree

The many types of trees in Michigan make living in this part of the country very appealing to most people. There are lots of varieties and they grow in a lot of different shapes and sizes. They’re all special in their own way, but one type of flowering tree in Michigan that really stands out is the Tulip Tree. 

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