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Ornamental cherry tree diseases

I have a 40+ year old ornamental cherry tree. The leaves have shriveled and the branches are literally just dropping off. Can anyone offer any advice? 


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Maybe take a photo of the tree and branches. It's sometimes hard to know for sure what are the issues.

    Check your tree branches and trunk for any open/cracked areas, and any liquid bleeding out of any branches. Sometimes, cankers on trees can cause similar problems.
  • jenrat25jenrat25 Posts: 4

  • jenrat25jenrat25 Posts: 4
    I can't see any damage on trunks or branches as yet. The leaves have shriveled and the branches are literally just dropping off 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Thanks for taking photos and checking all the branches and trunk. I can't see the whole of the tree, but what I can see is a very congested tree with multiple branches perhaps water shoots that form due to inconsistent pruning in the past.

    Maybe cut through some more of the branches that appear to be dropping off or have shrivelled leaves. If you see some grey rings on the wood inside, there is a possibility your tree could be suffering from Verticillium Wilt. 

    However, at 40 years old, your tree may be coming to the end of its life, but trees can die very slowly. To keep it in the best of health, you will need to thin out branches.

    You can do this now or next year in early spring. Remove branches with shrivelled leaves first. I suspect the branches may have snapped somewhere already. Cut right back and try to avoid just shortening branches. Only do that where needed, but cut all the way back. This will create more gaps so more air can pass through your tree. Remove the weeds that are wrapped around the trunk. Hopefully that will improve growing conditions.
  • jenrat25jenrat25 Posts: 4
    Thanks for all your help. We have started to prune it. There doesn't seem to be a branch that isn't affected. The tree does seem quite dry so it might be the wilt you mentioned. The leaves have gone silvery like they've got a coating on them. There's also some big splits on the bark on the main trunk but I'm not sure if that's new or old. Anyway on with the pruning! Thanks again  
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,852

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Dovefromabove has a good point. The mention of silvery looking leaves may point to Silver Leaf disease. Either way, you are doing the right thing in pruning back. Cracking on the bark is also a sign that your tree is old and all those open areas are easier for pests and diseases to get into the wood. Not a lot you can do about that.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,380
    It sounds very much like silver leaf disease  to me, several of our purple leaved cherries had it and died. We had others removed. Apparently it has a lot to do with pruning at the wrong time of year. Cherries must only be pruned in high summer I understand.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
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