ALERT: Are Your Evergreen Trees Dying?

Here in the Midwest, we know what is causing the demise of our native ash trees and its selected varieties. The emerald ash borer has been invading our ash trees that have been planted around our homes, as street trees and throughout commercial properties and parks over the years. The emerald ash borer continues to wreak havoc killing numerous ash trees and its impact on our landscapes has been devastating. Now we appear to be facing a new problem that may be self-inflicted.

Unfortunately we are now seeing several young and mature evergreen trees, mostly spruce and pine, that appear to be dying at an alarming rate. The trees exhibit yellowing, distortion and dieback of terminal growth with a generalized wilting condition.  In some cases, more extensive injury causes needle browning on older growth and complete tree death is occurring. At first many arborists, horticulturist, landscape technicians and extension specialist thought that this condition may have been caused by some unusual environmental factors. As time has passed, and notes have been compared, it is looking like the problem may be linked to something caused by man.

DuPont introduced a new herbicide broadleaf weed herbicide used in turf areas, called Imprelis, which has been used on sites where these symptoms are seen. Root absorption and translocation of Imprelis to new growth would explain these symptoms. Injury may not be noticed for several weeks after application. Heavy spring rains may have been a contributing factor in delivering the herbicide deeper into the soil thus causing more problems for trees.

Although it is not definitive yet as to whether or not Imprelis is the culprit of this calamity of dying evergreen trees around the country, The Ohio State University’s June ‘Buckeye Yard & Garden Line” newsletter states the common denominator in all samples of affected trees seems to be from lawn applications that used the herbicide Imprelis.

Link to OSU BYGL Newsletter.

Below are images of trees suspected of Imprelis herbicide damage.

 If you think that your trees have been affected, contact your professional lawn service provider and ask if Imprelis has been used on your property. You should have been given a record of what was applied to your turf areas as well.

Buck & Sons Landscape Service, Inc. customers can rest assured that we have not used this new product on any of their properties. If you have concerns or questions, we’re here to help.

About Steve Buck
Born into a family florist and garden center, horticulture has been my life. I attended OSU in horticulture, botany and agronomy during the early years of building our family landscape business. I have been active in The Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association on the board of directors as well as committee chair positions. The art of bonsai has also been a long time passion, and I have served as a past president of the Columbus Bonsai Society when not helping make our clients' outdoors the best that they can be. Current president of Buck & Sons Landscape Service, Inc.


2 Responses to “ALERT: Are Your Evergreen Trees Dying?”
  1. Don Coburn says:


    I am unsure as to what is causing my white pine to look like the ones pictured here. I take care of my own yard and will be checking to see if this chemical may have been in any fertilizer that I may have used. My tree is about ten years old, about 15″ tall, and is planted in a row with two others (not showing any of these symptoms. is In the mean time, is there any way to save the tree??? Please advise and thanks.

    Don Coburn
    614.205.0265 Mobile

  2. Steve Buck says:


    It’s very possible that the tree has white pine shoot borers if no chemical was in the equation. You would not have been able to use the product Imprelis because it was not available to the public. Look up pine shoot borers and compare the symptoms, especially of a dead shoot that you can cut off and look at closely. If you feel that this is the culprit, you’ll want to get on a spray program. Best wishes.

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