Mayor Dan Horrigan is asking Akron homeowners to be on the lookout for Oak Wilt, a rare fungal disease detected in some Akron neighborhoods, in the North and West areas of the City.
“We want to raise awareness, and inform residents about how to prevent the spread of this rare but deadly disease that can kill a healthy oak tree in a matter of days or weeks,” Horrigan said.
Oak Wilt is a fungal disease that clogs the vascular cells of the tree by cutting off the water supply from the roots to the leaves, resulting in the death of that tree. Trees become infected through open wounds or broken limbs and symptoms may include discoloration and wilting of leaves. Oaks in the Red Oak group (Red, Scarlet, Black, and Pin) are the most susceptible to this disease. Oaks in the White Oak group (White, Bur, and Swamp White) are also vulnerable, but have some resistance.
According to City Arborist Jon Malish, a warm, wet summer has contributed to the disease’s spread. The Oak Wilt spores can be transferred from tree to tree by insects, birds, squirrels or other creatures or underground through the root system.
Residents may help to eradicate Oak Wilt by following these simple guidelines:
1. Never voluntarily prune an oak between April 1 and Oct. 1.
2. If storm damage occurs or a limb breaks on a city-owned tree, contact 3-1-1 immediately. The city’s trained personnel will remove the branch and treat the wound to prevent infection.
3. If storm damage occurs, a limb breaks, or pruning cannot be delayed on a privately-owned tree, contact an ISA Certified Arborist. The professional will treat the wound and may recommend fungicidal treatments as well.
A fact sheet with more detailed information about Oak Wilt, produced by The Ohio State University Extension, is available here. The city mailed informational letters to residents in neighborhoods where the Oak Wilt disease has resulted in the removal of city oak trees.
“The spread of Oak Wilt is preventable. By working together, we can avoid the loss of any more of our majestic, neighborhood oaks,” Horrigan added.
Contact the Mayor’s Action Center at 3-1-1 or (330) 375-2311 to report damage to a City tree or to request additional information about preventing Oak Wilt.