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Sassafras Trees

Q.Why Would One Of Our Established Sassafras Trees Not Be Leafing Out By Late April (zone 7b)?

Zone 37087 | NashSD5 added on April 24, 2024 | Answered

We have 6 well established sassafras trees on our property. These trees are all 30-40ft tall. It’s late April & we’ve had some very warm spring weather here in middle TN, but 1 one of the 6 sass trees still looks as it did in the dead of winter. Even the one struck by lightning last year is coming in nicely. Can I do anything to encourage the slacker? How can I determine its status? It’s near our house & a massive tree so I’d like to know if its alive (had no visible issues last summer/ fall) or just very late this year (is that a known thing that occurs with some)? *Last 2 photos are other sass trees on property that are beginning to leaf- including the one struck by lightning.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on April 25, 2024

This is quite strange, but sometimes trees can die suddenly. This can be due to it's "immune system" failing due to disease or pests. Sometimes small insects that aren't very visible can cause issues, as well. I would try to do a scratch test. You will want to scratch one of the branches if you can reach them. You can see a little better if it is alive or dead.


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