Red Oak – Tight Bunches Of Small Leaves

Q: In the yard of our recently purchased home are two trees the previous owner told me were red oaks. She said they were beautiful when she had them planted two years ago. This year both of them only produced tight little bunches of small leaves scattered along the limbs. Will they leaf out next spring? 

A: Those clusters of tiny leaves tell me exactly what is going on. Last winter when the trees were leafless someone sprayed glyphosate (Roundup) on the trunk or roots. Although the herbicide is predominantly absorbed by leaves, tree roots and trunks can also bring in the chemical. The tufts of leaves are an example of classic glyphosate damage. I have seen the clusters of tiny leaves on more trees and shrubs than I can count. If the trees had no normal leaves this year, they are not likely to recover next year. I would plan to replace them this fall.

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