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Shrivelled brown leaves on Rowan tree

The leaves on my rowan tree (now in it's 4th year) suddenly turned brown and shrivelled at the beginning of August this year (see photos). It’s not the effects of an early autumn as new green leaves were still appearing at the branch tips but they now are looking brown. Initially I put this down to stress (too much rain, not enough rain?) though it is on a reasonably well drained sheltered from wind site , but now I’m seeing some brown patches on a nearby dwarf apple tree (which is about 2m from rowan) so I’m wondering if it is a fungus or bacterial infection. Any suggestions most welcome.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 66,267
    The sorbus looks to me as it it’s suffering from drought. 

    It doesnt look very well grown if it’s four years from planting as a pit grown  young tree?

    last year was very dry and this year has had some dry spells. How much water has it had?
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,238
    Might be best to take a photo of the whole tree. Gives an idea of where the green leaves are and the areas where there are brown leaves. Any leaves still clinging to the branches and are dry and crispy including the branch will indicate die-back. There are a number of reasons for that.

    Drought as mentioned is one, the other could be Fire-blight. Are there any areas of the trunk or branches damaged or scaling? 
  • Thanks to both of you for getting back to me so quickly. I’ve been out of the house today but got my husband to take some photos of ‘the whole tree’ (see photos). There are still a few leaves clinging. It never occurred to me it could be drought as there’s been so much rain over the last couple of months but now you mention it, it could be that the tree is vulnerable to stress and I’ve not been looking out for it. It is around 4 years old but was ‘rescued’ a couple of years ago when I planted it in my garden. I don’t know the whole history of the tree but it was left in a someone’s garden in a pot. The lady who owned the garden died 3 years ago (almost to the day) and the tree overwintered in the garden in the pot. It was still alive the following summer when I was helping to clear out the house and I thought I’d see if it would take being transplanted to my garden (rather than leaving it for another pot bound winter). I really didn’t expect it to last the winter but it did and did well last year, and was looking well for most of this year, up until about 6 weeks ago. I haven’t paid it particular attention this year (it might have been watered, but only if other things in the garden we’re being been watered). I live in Scotland and generally there usually isn’t a lot of need for watering. 

    I can can see any obvious signs of scaling, but I’m going to read up on fire blight (just googled it now and (gulp) I did lose quite a bit of by quince last year and put it down to me over pruning it. It’s been ok this year though. 

    Anyhow how thanks for the pointers 😊
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    That's in a very difficult position for it to thrive. In a tiny bed, by a wall, and another building. It looks like it's been grafted. It's hard to see the bottom of it, but it look like it has a bit of new growth at the base.
    I think it's dead, and the part below the graft is taking over.  :/
    Can you get a close up of the base of it? 

    Native rowans will grow in permanent dampness - they grow in the edges of burns. The cultivated 'named' varieties, are not quite so accomodating, but they need a decent base to grow in, and plenty of water. That should be a bulky, sturdy tree by now if it was thriving. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I have two native EU Rowans and a neighbour has one too.  Mine are 5yrs old and roughly 4mtrs tall now with a girth of roughly 100mm at a height of a mtr.  My neighbours rowan is 10's of years old and twice the height.    All three of them have suffered this year, all the leaves have gone brown, some have fallen and all the berries have shrivelled up, going brown and falling off.   I have a retaining wall roughly 1mtr high holding up / back a large part of the garden.    In winter / spring the soil level behind this retaining wall is normally level with the top of the wall, it is a full 6" lower than this at mo!!!!   The lowest i've ever seen it at this time of year.

  • Thanks for your comment. I’m feeling happier that it is due to drought as I was worried about disease spreading through my garden. Poor tree has had a hard life and I should have looked out for it a bit more. Anyhow it’s all a learning experience. Having these discussion forums are a great help.🙂

  • Rowan trees are very robust, it'll be ok next year, keep it well watered next summer.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    I still think it's growing again from the bottom, and the top is dead. It's impossible to tell from those photos though.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • If it were mine I would wait until late Autumn to move the tree.  You have planted it too close to the wall, which is going to restrict the tree's growth - imagine a full size tree trunk - either the wall or the tree will suffer from lack of space.  Any plant that is planted close to a wall needs twice as much water - the wall sucks up moisture. Watering is essential for the tree to thrive. Rowans are lovely trees, attractive berries and beautiful leaves.  Good luck whatever you decide to do @mmbforrester514
  • Thanks for everyone’s comments, it’s so helpful  😊 
    Given the state it’s in, do you think it would survive a move this autumn? There are a couple of leaves at the bottom of the trunk (it’s too dark by the time I get home from work this week to be able to take a photo, will try at the weekend).

    and just to confirm, is there no need to worry about the brown patches on the nearby apple tree leaves? 

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