Oak wilt is a fungal disease that affects oak trees. As the name implies, oak wilt causes leaves of affected trees to wilt and turn brown. It is fatal for red oaks, including northern red oak, pin oak, scarlet oak, and black oak. White oaks are affected but may survive.
Oak wilt is spread from infected to healthy trees in three ways:
The activities of people, such as pruning during vulnerable times, or moving infected firewood, can cause new infections. Infected trees can cause additional damage to other trees and be very expensive to treat and/or remove. The most effective way to protect oak trees is prevention! By only pruning during the safest period (November 1 – March 14), being cautious when you mow and trim around oak trees, painting (shellac or latex paint) wounds caused by storms, monitoring your trees for change, burning wood where you buy or cut it, and contacting the MDNR or the VBCD right away if you suspect oak wilt, you can help protect your trees.
Suspected cases of oak wilt can be reported by emailing DNR-FRD-Forest-Health@michigan.gov or give us a call 269-657-4030×5 for additional information.