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ABIOTIC DISORDERS

Chemical Injury

Most often chemical injury shows as distorted twisted growth and is the result of herbicide drift.  Appearance of damage after lawn applications is often a good indicator. Roadside or walkway use of de-icing salts can also cause considerable foliar damage to evergreens. Check injured plants for contact with chlorinated pool water, chloride road dust treatment, septic tank, softened water system recharging or leaking natural gas line. Occasionally, spray applications cause foliar burn. Japanese maples can even burn when sprinklers hit the foliage on hot days.

Salt Damage

Salts in the soil come from naturally occurring minerals in the soil or in the irrigation water; from improperly applied manure, lime, or fertilizer; or from de-icing salts.  If the concentration of salts dissolved in the soil water is too high, plants can’t get enough water for healthy growth.  As a result, growth slows and the leaves turn yellow.  Salt also enters the plant, where it is deposited in the tips or edges of leaves, as the water in which the salt was dissolved evaporates.  When enough salt accumulates, the tissue at the edge of the leaves turns yellow, then dies.  As water evaporates from the soil, the salts become more concentrated and more damaging.  Salt damage and drought damage often occur together, compounding the problem.  Salt accumulation in the soil is often caused by poor drainage, which keeps the salts from being leached through the soil.  In urban areas damaging amounts of salt can accumulate.  An Anti-transpirant spray applied to the foliage is a thin coat of plastic material that prevents winter drying and also protects foliage from airborne salt.

Cold Damage

Early or Late Cold Snaps:
Plants that are hardened off (adjusted to outdoor conditions) and adapted to the area in which they are growing do not usually suffer from freezing damage unless the temperature drops much lower than normal.  However, during mild fall weather hardening off is delayed, and unexpected cold snaps in early fall may freeze tender leaves and stems.  When premature warm spells during the spring stimulate the production of new growth, cold snaps can be very damaging to this tender foliage. There is not much you can do about unanticipated freezing or chilling temperatures during cold snaps.  If you anticipate damagingly low temperatures, cover your plants with burlap, cardboard, or heavy paper during the night. 

Sunscald

Sunscald occurs when bark is killed by overexposure to the sun.  Trees that have been recently transplanted or pruned and young trees with thin bark are most susceptible to sunscald.  When tree, buildings, or dense foliage shades a tree, the bark on the trunk and branches remains thin and tender.  If exposed to intense sunlight, the bark cells heat up rapidly.  Because they are not adapted to such high temperatures, the cells are easily injured or killed.  Dark brown or black bark is particularly susceptible to sunscald because it absorbs more heat than lighter bark. Sunscald may also occur during cold, sunny winter days.  The killed bark turns dark and splits open, forming long cracks or cankers, usually on the southwest side of the tree. 
Unless the tree is very young or extremely damaged, it will usually recover with proper care.  Water and fertilize the tree to stimulate new growth.  As the tree adapts to its sunnier location, its bark will thicken; new growth will also shade the bark, protecting it from sunscald.  To prevent damage, wrap trunks with burlap or tree wrapping paper and remove in spring.  If possible, transplant in overcast, cool weather, and water as soon as they’ve been transplanted. 

Leaf Burn and Scorch

Leaf burn and leaf scorch occur when leaf cells overheat.  Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, leaf scorch usually refers to browning and tissue death around leaf margins and between veins, while leaf burn usually refers to dead patches in the middle of the leaf.  Normally, leaves are cooled by the evaporation of water from their surfaces.  When a leaf dry out, the amount of water that evaporates is reduced and they overheat, then burn or scorch.  Sometimes entire leaves or shoots are damaged.  Several different conditions may cause leaf burn or leaf scorch.  Many of these factors are interrelated; when they occur in combination, damage may be severe.
Drought: Leaf burn and leaf scorch often occur when plant roots can’t get enough water.  Many soil conditions may cause dehydration.  Plants growing in dry; salty, frozen, or restricted soil areas may not get as much water as they need.
Too Much Water: Over watered or heavy, poorly drained soils can cause burn or scorch.  Roots require oxygen to function properly.  Wet soils are often low in oxygen causing root death.  As the roots start to die, they absorb less water. 
Wind and Heat:  Hot, windy conditions cause burn and scorch in some plants, even when the soil is moist.  Wind and heat cause water to evaporate more quickly from the leaves than it can be replaced.
References
OSU Extension Factsheet HYG-1139-94
Ortho home and Garden

ABIOTIC VS BIOTIC DISORDERS

BIOTIC DISEASE

When treating biotic disease, it helps to consider the “disease triangle”. (pictured below) It is not enough to have a susceptible host and infecting pathogens present. Environmental conditions must be favorable to infection, or disease cannot develop. Diseases can be controlled by interrupting any part of the disease triangle. For example, host - plant varieties that are resistant to disease, pathogen - apply fungicide to kill fungus, conditions - thinning prune to reduce humidity favorable to fungal disease.

ABIOTIC DISORDERS

(Environment and cultural problems)
Plants have basic requirements to live: sun, water, and nutrients. How much water, sun and the ability to absorb nutrients from the soil varies greatly among plant species. Plant species also vary a great deal in their tolerance of heat, cold, drought, wet soils, shade, wind, salt and other environmental conditions. Often we find landscape trees and shrubs out of their preferred environment.
The vast majority of landscape plant injury is due to poor growing conditions. Plants are often installed in sites unfavorable to their development. Sometimes plants outright die, but more often they struggle along in a weakened state that makes them more susceptible to pest attack and injury. Carefully evaluate the site of injured plants. Is the soil adequately drained? Will that species tolerate the pH? Is there too much or too little sun or water? Is there a compacted layer of soil (hard pan) from construction?
These plants are chronically stressed and lack vigor. Stressed plants are more readily attacked by pests and are less likely to recover from pest injury. Understanding what trees and shrubs need and manipulating their planting environment to meet those needs is a large part of managing pests through Plant Health Care.

DISEASE TERMINOLOGY

Chlorosis - Abnormal yellowing of leaf tissue. Yellowing between leaf veins is characteristic of some micronutrient deficiencies. Overall yellowing can be caused by shade, too much sun, over watering, and wilt diseases
Leaf Blotch - Leaf blotch manifests itself as larger more irregular spots on the leaf.  Horse chestnut and oak anthracnose is a good example.
Leaf spot Diseases - If the disease affected areas are mostly circular in shape and have a yellow or green margin, we will refer to them as leaf spots. Most are caused by fungi with a few bacterial and viral types. Examples include black spot of roses, apple leaf scab, black tar spot and some types of anthracnose.
Blights - Blights kill growing tissues (elongating tips) and are usually bacterial or fungal in origin.  Bacterial fire blight of Rosaceous plants is the most common example, along with Diplodia tip blight of pines.
Scorches - Scorches can affect the entire leaf but are usually seen as a browning of the edges of the leaf.  The usual cause is lack of water. Plants suffer drought because of a lack of rain, but also when their root system is poor as a result of fill soil, excavation or girdling roots. Scorch can also be the result of intense radiation or salt damage.  Salts accumulate at the margins and can cause a scorched appearance.
Cankers - Plant tissue shrinks and dies back. Often affected branches will show an open “sore” that weeps sap. Cytospora canker of spruce and fire blight are the most commonly encountered cankering diseases. Again, the infectious agent is a bacteria or fungus. Cankers also are commonly caused by mechanical injury from mowers and construction equipment.
Wilts -Tissue die back is caused by a disturbance of the plant’s vascular system - usually a fungus drawn up through the roots.  Wilts are often a sign of poor vigor due to root loss in wet sites, low fertility, or old age. The most often encountered wilt is Verticillium, a soil-borne fungus that affects a wide range of woody plants. As the fungus grows, vascular tissue becomes clogged and water, nutrients and food cannot be moved through the tree as needed. Wilt diseases act like clogged arteries in humans. Sometimes, one can cut an affected branch and see a streaking of the cambium but often it is not present.  Dutch elm disease and oak wilt are other examples of wilt diseases.
Galls - Galls are abnormal swellings of plant tissue on the stems, leaves, flowers or trunks.  Most are caused by insects and mites but many are caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses.  Galls caused by diseases would include crown gall of euonymus and cedar apple rust galls on junipers.
Tree disease triangle
Abiotic disorder on trees
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Abiotic Tree Disorders
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Tree, Lawn, or Landscape Question or Service Needed
Owen Tree Service provides tree, lawn, and landscape services to the following cities and towns:
Genesee County, Michigan:
● Burton
● Davison
● Flushing
● Goodrich
● Linden
● Otisville
● Clio
● Fenton
● Gaines
● Grand Blanc
● Montrose
● Otter Lake
● Flint
● Genesee
● Lennon
● Mt Morris
● Swartz Creek
Lapeer County, Michigan:
● Almont
● Brown City
● Columbiaville
● Imlay City
● Metamora
● Peck
● Attica
● Clifford
● Dryden
● Lapeer
● North Branch
● Sandusky
● Hadley
● Mayville
● Otter Lake
● Silverwood
Macomb County, Michigan:
● Armada
● Clinton Twp
● Grosse Pointe
● Macomb
● New Haven
● St Clair Shores
● Centerline
● Detroit
● Grosse Pointe Farms
● Ray
● Sterling Heights
● Chesterfield
● Eastpointe
● Grosse Pointe Shores
● Memphis
● Romeo
● Utica
● Clinton
● Fraser
● Grosse Pointe Woods
● Mt Clemens
● Roseville
● Warren
● Harrison Twp
● New Baltimore
● Shelby Twp
● Washington
Oakland County, Michigan:
● Auburn Hills
● Bloomfield Village
● Ferndale
● Leonard
● Orion
● South Lyon
● Berkley
● Clarkston
● Franklin
● Madison Heights
● Ortonville
● Southfield
● Beverly Hills
● Clawson
● Hazel Park
● Milford
● Oxford
● Troy
● Bingham Farms
● Commerce Twp
● Highland
● Novi
● Pleasant Ridge
● Walled Lake
● Birmingham
● Davisburg
● Holly
● Oak Park
● Pontiac
● Waterford
● Bloomfield
● Detroit
● Huntington Woods
● Oakland
● Rochester
● West Bloomfield
● Bloomfield Hills
● Farmington
● Lake Orion
● Oakland Twp
● Rochester Hills
● White Lake
● Farmington Hills
● Lathrup Village
● Orchard Lake
● Royal Oak
● Wixom
St. Clair County, Michigan:
● Algonac
● Casco
● East China
● Harbor Beach
● Lexington
● Peck
● Allenton
● Clay
● Emmett
● Harsens Island
● Marine City
● Port Huron
● Berlin
● Clyde
● Fair Haven
● Jeddo
● Marysville
● Richmond
● Brockway
● Columbus
● Fort Gratiot
● Kimball
● Memphis
● Sandusky
● Capac
● Cottrellville
● Goodells
● Lakeport
● North Street
● St Clair
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