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Oak wilt an uncommon but deadly scourge

In this article from the Akron Beacon Journal, Davey's Gordon Matthews talks about oak wilt and what it means for trees with the disease.

By Mary Beth Breckenridge

Published: July 25, 2014

The 172-foot-tall red oak in Gayle Palshook’s yard has been part of her life for more than 50 years.

She and her two siblings used to climb the centuries-old tree as kids. Today it stands as something of a living memorial to her late parents, who agreed when they bought the property in 1962 that they would never cut its oaks down.

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Now that grand tree is dying, apparently a victim of a fast-moving disease called oak wilt. To Palshook, it’s a little like losing a member of the family.

“Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe it’s going to be dead in a few weeks,” she said as she looked up at a leafy canopy that is still mostly green, except for some brown leaves near the top. “… I’m in denial.”

Palshook first noticed a problem a few weeks ago, when green leaves started dropping from the tree, many of them browning at the edges. She looked up into the tree and noticed a limb with dead leaves.

An arborist with the Davey Tree Expert Co. examined the tree and sent samples for a laboratory analysis. Although the results aren’t back yet, all the signs point to oak wilt, said Gordon Matthews, the company’s Akron-area district manager.

The disease that attacks all types of oaks can kill certain kinds with alarming speed — sometimes, in just weeks.

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