Ask a Question forum→Why does this tree die?

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Richmond, VA
Jun 5, 2020 3:01 PM CST
The tree died this year. I made a small cut in the trunk as shown about 3 years ago. Is this the cause of the death? Thank you.

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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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Jun 5, 2020 3:22 PM CST
I doubt that your cut killed the tree but it didn't do it any good either!
Cause of death??? I am thinking lightning strike maybe?'
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Name: sumire
Reno, Nevada (Zone 6a)
Jun 5, 2020 3:57 PM CST
The sawdust around the trunk of the tree would suggest one of the borer species. They tend to colonize and kill pine trees that had damage (like the cut section) and are otherwise stressed (drought, root problems...). I would say that the cut didn't help it any, but was not the cause of death.
central ohio (Zone 5b)
Jun 5, 2020 5:36 PM CST
Pine wilt is also a thing going around. We lost a scots pine from the 1860s to a combination of drought and possibly wilt a few years ago.

Established tree death is usually a combination of factors: pests, weather, root disturbance &c. Your cut may have contributed, but the tree had other things working against it for it to die.
Richmond, VA
Jun 5, 2020 7:33 PM CST
Thank you very much.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jun 5, 2020 7:38 PM CST
Pine wilt is caused by a nemotode in the soil attacking the roots. Nemotodes wouldn't make sawdust or holes in the trunk.
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central ohio (Zone 5b)
Jun 6, 2020 7:38 AM CST
Pine wilt nematodes use beetles as a vector, hence the rapid spread:

A small beetle infection could lead to a serious nematode infection.

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