Please help. We have a sumac tree that grows really fast in early Spring. The leaves are long and beautiful and then overnight some of the branches/leaves suddenly wilt and die. Parts of the tree looks healthy and other areas are wilting.. Any advice on what to do? Thanks Heidi ( We live in Keswick not far form the lake and the soil is sandy.
Sumacs are generally quite hardy and also prefer a well drained soil.
You may want to take a close look at your stricken shrubs to observe for either black scale or evidence of fungal conks or fuzziness on the bark. If you see colonies of black scale insects this is treatable, if you see nothing or evidence of fungal infestation these diseases are terminal.
Black Scale are dark-brown or black dome-shaped bodies lacking recognizable heads allow adult black scale (Saissetia oleae) insects to masquerade as woody growths on staghorn sumac branches. Adult black scale females lay up to 2,000 eggs in their brief lives. Large black scale colonies drain enough sap to weaken the trees, limiting their bloom and colorful, fuzzy red berries. Remedies include; water blasting , scraping the pests off with a scouring pad or toothbrush or pruning severely infested branches to limit the damage.
Unless you can actually visibly see any scale or fungus on the bark or trunk , this means you probably have Verticillium wilt.
Infected tree leaves wilt and curl, becoming red or yellow between the veins, and later die and fall off. The disease begins at the roots, progressing upward, and individual branches’ dieback may also occur. Generally, infected trees die after one or more years, but some may die quickly.
There is no known cure once the disease gets going in the shrub.
If you want to replace any of your sumacs, the fungal infestation will persist in the soil for a number of years, so you will want to choose another species which is not susceptible to verticulum wilt.