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What is happening to my sunburst locust tree?

June 20, 2004

I live in Toronto Ontario, Canada (zone 5a-5b) and 8 years ago, I planted a 7 year old sunburst locust tree. It has done very well over the years, doubling in truck width and standing close to 20 feet tall. In the past few years, every spring, aphids (I think) would lay eggs on some of the new growth making the leaves curl back on themselves and form a small seed-like cocoon. It didn't damage the rest of the tree but just looked ugly so I would cut off the affected areas and everything went back to normal (even got a second growth about mid-summer). This year it's different - VERY different. A third of the new growth didn't develop and all the compound leaves fell of the main stem, leaving the branches with these little clumps of needle-like stems. I have no idea why. We did not do anything different this year to our garden (we don't even spray pesticides)so I am very puzzled. I have noticed that on my street, the white birch trees have slowly been destroyed (I'm thinking leaf miners) and had to be cut down. Could this be the same problem? What concerns me is that this is a very nice tree and I would hate to have it cut down. Moreover, I have a wonderful white birch not 15 feet away (no signs of disease or pests on it!) and I would hate it to spread to that tree as well. Can anybody help me find out what's happending? Thanks

Comments (10)

  • shapiro

    Hello, Merlyn: I'm in Ottawa. I was just on the www.icangarden.com website and in their forums (which they call by some other name) there's a conversation about YOUR problem with Honey Locust. Apparently, what is different this year is that a separate bug in huge numbers is preying on the aphids. Just go and read it for yourself. The person was from Oakville, near you. Luckily, this has not reached Ottawa (yet) - our only problem with our Honey Locust so far is that our cold winters sometimes cause a bit of die-back, but all we need to do is trim the bare branches off. Good luck!

  • gardencrazyinwa

    You have worms. Those little cocoons are eggs. If you uncurl the leaves you will see little tiny white worms. They will eventually kill all your leaves. You need to buy a systemic. I bought Bayer but it was kind of expensive about 26.00 but it is concentrated and I still have enough for another year or so. Any systemic will do. It comes up through the trunk and into the leaves killing all the worms. Following the directions you mix it in a bucket with water and pour it around the tree staying the appropriate distance from the trunk. You usually only have to apply it once a year. I did this 2 yrs and this year I don't have any worms. A systemic is time released and worked great for me.

  • shapiro

    Hello again: Similarly, birch tree problems (i.e. leaf miners) can be "headed off at the pass" by painting a band of a systemic insecticide approximately chest height on the tree trunk each year, early spring. Just go to your friendly garden store, tell them you need a systemic for birch leaf bugs and they will sell you the right stuff, complete with instructions.

  • phitchc

    I have a huge infestation of aphids on my trees which are 30-40 tall. Any recommendations on how to control them. they are causing considerable damage.

  • gunnerkrey_yahoo_com

    I bought my home a few yrs. ago and I have lots of green leaf locust trees with pods. I also live in southwest Ks. and we have been in a severe drought. My question is my leaves are turning yellow. Can you help me save my trees.

  • robertplantfan

    I have a huge Sunburst Locust on our front lawn about 30 feet from our foundation and we haven't had any problems. The Locusts do get aphids in the spring and summer, however they do disappear and new growth happens. These trees are great shade trees. The leaves are a beautiful golden colour in the spring and are the last leaves to fall in the autumn. They look almost gothic during the winter months with their zig zagging branches. These trees have the hardest wood and are tolerant to cold and drought. If you are having reservations about getting one don't. They are one great tree. Ours is thornless and does not get pods ever.

  • wendyrow

    My sunburst locust tree is about 7 yrs old and is getting a sort of light green "fungus" growing in patches all over the bark and branches? Does anyone know what this is and if there is a cure? Thank you! I live in the Thumb area of Michigan.

  • maribeth

    my sunburst is thin with dead branches, does it need food?

  • maribeth

    My sunburst locust is 35 years old and huge. this year, most of the leaves have fallen off of the lower branches in the last 2 weeks. there is a lot of dead looking wood on the tree. what to do?

  • letaasaad

    I have owned my home for 10 years now and have 2 Sunburst Locust trees in my front yard, facing East. Enjoy wonderful shade But This year it looks like the one on the South is dying! Most of the bottom branches leaves have turned brown and falling off. I am just sick and know not what to do. I live in southern Minnesota. I don't know if I should call a tree Doctor ( don't know if one exists in this area) Help please.

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