How to Identify and Treat Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt is a debilitating vascular fungal disease that can affect all species of oak trees. Learn what causes this transmittable tree disease, how to identify the signs, and what you can do to stop it from killing your majestic oaks. Continue reading to cover these topics and more.

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Oak Wilt Tree Disease

As mentioned, oak wilt is a vascular fungal disease. It is caused by a fungus that enters and obstructs a tree’s inner vascular system where water and nutrients are distributed throughout the tree. Since the fungus enters this internal transportation system, it affects the entire tree rather than an isolated spot. Furthermore, if these food and water lines are inhibited, it can cause a tree to enter a quick decline. For this reason, it is important to address an oak wilt outbreak before it can take over your tree.


There are many ways tree diseases can be spread, however, oak wilt is primarily transmitted through beetles or root grafting. Beetles can carry the fungus from one tree to the next, while underground roots of an infected oak tree can share water and nutrient lines with the root system of a nearby tree. This also spreads the fungus. Once an oak tree is dead from the disease, it is no longer transmittable, unless it is a Red oak. Red oak trees should be properly burned and disposed to prevent further outbreaks.

Signs and Symptoms

Live oaks and red oaks exhibit different signs of oak wilt. For live oaks, one of the most common signs is a called veinal necrosis. Leaves develop chlorotic and necrotic veins, in which the leaf veins turn yellow, and then turn brown. This occurrence is usually one of the first noticeable signs of oak wilt disease. From there, additional leaf decline and rapid foliage loss usually takes place, followed by a 1 to 6 month health decline period, and eventually, death. Red oak trees infected with oak wilt do not experience veinal necrosis. Instead, leaves simply wilt and turn colors of pale green, brown, and bronze. They remain attached for the most part, but red oak trees will only survive anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks once infected.


Certain species of oaks are not likely to die from oak wilt, including Post oaks, chinquapins, and bur oaks. The most common treatment for oak wilt is a series of bimonthly fungicide injections called Propiconazole. This fungicide is applied through macro-injection of the root flares. This application technique generally gives the best results, however, the fungicide treatment does not guarantee the tree’s survival. Propiconazole fungicide treatments are also effective methods of oak wilt prevention. Talk to your local Indianapolis tree service company about your options for Oak wilt prevention.

Call Complete Tree Care at 317-783-2518 for Indianapolis tree service you can trust. We are highly trained and experienced tree care technicians that offer commercial and residential tree services at affordable prices. Request an estimate or advice anytime. Call 317-783-2518 to learn more about tree care in Indianapolis, Indiana today.