Oak Wilt Disease

Oak wilt is a very aggressive disease that affects many species of oak trees, and if left unchecked, will spread and kill more trees.

Oak wilt disease is caused by the fungus Ceratocysitis facacearum. The fungus colonizes the vascular system of many oak species. Species of the red oak family are highly susceptible to oak wilt. These include red oak, black oak, scarlet oak, pin oak, and blackjack oak. While white oaks are also susceptible, they do exhibit some resistance to oak wilt. White oak species include white oak, bur oak, swamp white oak and chestnut oak.

Symptoms to look for are the bronzing and wilting of the leaves at the top of the tree. Leaf drop may also occur while tree leaves are still green. Dr. Bruce R. Fraedrich, Ph.D., of Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, has more information in his Technical Report, Managing Oak Wilt Disease in Pennsylvania. You can also find information from the USDA’s How to Identify, Prevent and Control Oak Wilt brochure.

Patton Township Code, Chapter 163, states if oak trees are pruned from April 1 through October 31, cuts must be sealed with a commercial tree paint or wound dressing. Climbing trees with boot spikes is not permitted unless the tree is being removed in its entirety. To review the Code, please click here.

When the Township is alerted to a possible oak wilt case, we will contact a certified arborist to take a sample from the suspected tree. Upon a positive test result, the Township will contact property owners of the infected tree, and any property owner within a 150 radius of the infected tree(s), to obtain permission to access the property for treatment and prevent the disease from spreading. The township may perform all the above listed work at no cost to the property owners provided they sign a permission form.

Patton Township’s policy regarding the management of infected trees includes:

1. Trenching to disrupt root grafts to the infected tree.

2. Fungicidal injections of healthy trees within approximately 150 feet of the infected tree.

3. Removal of the entire infected tree and grinding the stump at least six inches below grade.