March 2018

The weather is finally getting warmer, the sun is shining, and the days are longer.  Soon, trees will have their bright green leaves again. When does that typically happen?

Trees know when it’s time to break out their leaves again.  One way a tree knows is the warmer weather, especially after long cold periods.  A tree also knows it’s time to bud when the days get longer and there’s more sunlight for them to collect for energy.  Trees in the south typically begin to bloom about mid March.

When autumn hits, trees prepare for the harsh winters by going dormant, and protecting their buds with a harder shell.  The trees are still very much alive, but relatively inactive to survive on the energy they’ve stored all summer. Most trees have an internal timer that they set themselves to make sure they aren’t tricked into budding too early.  Many times, there’s a period of warm rains to thaw the out the ground, and then along comes one more freeze before spring. By having a set time of dormancy, trees can protect their young fresh shoots from any damage that final freeze may cause.  

Native trees are used to the change in the temperature in their area because they’ve been through the seasons before, and are able to adapt.  It’s important to not plant trees outside of the normal range of what they’re used to, as they can suffer. Changes in the temperature can also confuse and damage the new buds of the tree as well.  

Global warming can also have an effect on how soon a tree will break bud for the spring.  Too many changes in temperature can confuse a tree and make it harder for the tree to know when it’s time to bud.  If you have a tree in your yard that is not budding around the same time it would normally bud, it may be time to call an arborist to come out and make sure the tree is healthy.

Tree leaves in your neighborhood should be coming out and enjoying the spring weather, and so should you!


You may have noticed small lumps or long protrusions dangling from the leaves of your trees.  These are called leaf galls. Leaf galls can be hollow or hard, and look like there’s something wrong with your tree, but fret not.  These bumps are usually not a sign of disease.

While leaf galls look terrible, they are usually not anything to worry about.  The bumps are usually caused by an insect or bacteria feeding on your leaves. The bumps are an after effect, similar to a bug bite you may get.  The original organism is not still hanging around. Unfortunately, unlike our bug bites, leaf galls don’t go away.

Insects like to feed on new, fresh leaves, so leaf galls rarely affect more mature leaves on the trees.  You may also find galls on stems or flowers, but they are most commonly found on the leaves of trees, such as oaks, maples, and elms.  

Trees will most likely be more affected by galls after a harsh winter, when the bugs are hungrier.  This is usually not a problem for healthy trees, but trees that have encountered more damage over the winter season may be more susceptible to early leaf loss.

Since leaf galls are primarily a cosmetic issue, it’s best to just leave them alone.  If the insects are a problem, that typically takes care of itself, as gall causing bugs find natural predators rather quickly.  It’s also not a bad idea to spray your trees at the beginning of spring to ward off any unwanted pests.

With any unusual growth on your trees, keep an eye out for weakening trees along with the gall, as this could be a sign of something larger at play.  When in doubt, always call a professional arborist to examine your tree for further damage or infections.