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How to identify Oak Wilt before it's too late

What Is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a vascular wilt disease caused by a fungus that clogs the water-conducting (xylem) vessels of trees in the Beech family (predominately oak species but also chestnuts and several others).  

Oakwilt Distribution map from 2016
Q, Chaves, USDA Forest Service, www.nrs.fs.fed.us

The severity and rate of mortality are also due in large part to the self-preservation response of the tree, in which the tree shuts down and kills most of its colonized tissue in order to compartmentalize or trap the fungus and limit its full movement within itself.

Oak wilt is the worst tree pathogen in Texas. It is in the top 5 tree pathogens in the USA. The national oak wilt map is eye-opening to the Texan as it clearly shows that our severe problem is actually only a small percentage of the total expanse of this disease. It is sobering to see how seriously our entire national tree cover is being affected by Oak Wilt.

What Does Oak Wilt Look Like?

identifying oak wiltI manage thousands of acres of oak wilt in over a dozen counties within central Texas.

This amount of experience with the disease day in and day out throughout the year, with different cold- hardiness zones, elevations, soil types, annual rainfall variations, etc., has in a way provided me a state of the art “laboratory” by which I can form observations and continually improve the management plans I provide my many clients.

I’ve included a number of photo and video collections below of just some of my observations regarding this disease. One thing I want to stress here – many of these photos, videos, and DNA testing results call into question – further, require significant changes in current education and protocol regarding this disease.

Do you need help identifying oak wilt on your property?

Contact Us for Assistance


Note: We are using Research Associates Laboratory to validate diagnoses and DNA testing to verify the various species in the images and videos below.

Read more about how the DNA-based Method Enhances Detection of the Oak Wilt Fungus

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