Tree Pests: Native Pests - Page 5

Rapid white oak mortality

Beginning in August 2011 and continuing through fall 2013, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Forest Health staff received many reports of rapid white oak decline and mortality, often occurring within one growing season. In 2013, a majority of reports came from east central and southeast Missouri.

Seemingly healthy white oaks are experiencing rapid mortality


Seemingly healthy white oaks are experiencing rapid mortality and forest health experts have yet to identify the cause. (Photo by Robbie Doerhoff, Missouri Department of Conservation.)

Missouri counties where rapid white oak mortality has been reported


Missouri counties where rapid white oak mortality has been reported.

This syndrome is different from other oak decline patterns reported in Missouri, which typically include red oak species on ridge tops and upper slopes of southwest-facing aspects and is often attributed to the combined effects of advanced tree age, high stem density and drought. In many recent white oak reports, pockets of white oak decline in mixed oak stands have been located on lower slopes. Other oak species are rarely affected.

Research is currently underway to better understand this mortality and begin to predict where and when it is likely to occur. If you have a question or wish to report a dying white oak, please contact one of the sources listed in the additional assistance section of the Tree Pests program page.