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Trees do not talk, but those tall plants do send-off signals. Consequently, a gardener, or a tree’s owner should know how to interpret those signals.

Easily spotted signals, and how to deal with them

A tree starts to lean: That could signal a problem with the tree’s root structure. There are 2 possible causes for any problem in that natural structure. One is poor soil quality, which normally results from a lack of sufficient water. The second is development of a tree-attacking disease.

• The appearance of fungus on exposed roots: That could suggest a rotting of the tree’s inner section. Only a professional arborist can provide the ideal treatment.

• The formation of colonies of pests in the area of the exposed roots: This is another sign of possible rotting within the tree’s interior section. Again, only a trained Arborist in San Jose can suggest the best remedy.

• Slower than expected leaf growth, or fewer than expected leaves on branches: Either of those could be a sign of disease or pests. By the same token, either of those features could develop on a tall plant that has not received a sufficient amount of water.

How to deal with a less obvious signal?

A tree might develop a large amount of dead growth, or it might become the source of many fallen branches. A homeowner that observes either of those features should carry out specific checks, which can test to see if a tree is dying.

One check involves scratching off a bit of the tree’s bark. That provides the scraper with a look at the region under the tree’s outermost layer (the bark). It that same area does not appear green, then the tested tree could be dry or rotting.

A rotting tree shows signs of a limited lifetime; a dry one does not have to die. How should a homeowner test to see which of the 2 problems have caused the less than obvious signal? The additional test is really quite simple. It involves no more than reaching up and twisting off one of the smaller branches. The tester should pay attention to the branch’s reaction to the twisting motion. Does the branch break or shatter? If it does either of those things, then the tester would have reason to believe that the tested tree is dying.

What might cause a tree to die?

Development of a fissure could lead to rotting, and, eventually, a tree’s death. A loss of the natural leaf covering could make possible occurrence of the latter consequence.

Each leaf receives some sunlight, and uses it in the food-making process known as photosynthesis. A reduction in the number of leaves means a decrease in the tree’s food supply.