Brown branches on 16 years old pine tree


Hi there,

I would like to ask the problem of my 16 years old pine tree. I watered it regularly (10 minutes in 2-3 days) during summer. Recently, I discovered there some brown branches near the trunk in the middle of the pine tree,

Is my pine tree getting the infection?
or Not enough water?
or too much water?

How can I save it?



Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about the problem with your tree. I cannot be sure from your photo and the information you have provided what the problem is with your tree which I think might be a blue spruce (Picea pungens) although I am not certain about this. The brown branches that you are seeing could be the result of insects, diseases especially fungal diseases, drought, injuries to the trunk, winter injury or root problems. Assuming that your tree is a blue spruce, you will find more information about potential problems at the links below.

A Visual Guide: Spruce problems – Missouri Botanical Garden

Diagnosing Spruce Problems – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

I suggest that you consult with a certified arborist who can determine what the problem is and how to best treat it. It will help if you know what kind of tree this is, if it is indeed a blue spruce or something else. A blue spruce has blue-green to silver-blue needles that are attached singly to twigs, not in groups of 2 or 3 or 5. You could also take pictures of your whole tree and some close-up pictures of a branch and some needles, and take these and some of the twigs to your local garden centre for help to identify your tree. It will also help if you examine your tree closely for other symptoms besides the browning needles that you have described in your question. For example, when did the browning start (previous years, in the spring, very recently?), and is the browning at the bottom or top or scattered throughout the tree. It looks in your photo like there could be dark spots on the bark of your tree and like there is damage to the trunk, is this right? Is there any sign of sticky or dried (typically white) resin on the trunk?  Is there any sign of insects (might need a magnifying glass) or fine webbing? This information will provide a useful starting point for an arborist to diagnose the problem with your tree. You can find a list of certified arborists in your area here.

Hoping for the best in restoring your tree to good health!

Oct 4, 2023