The effects of last year‘s drought are starting to take casualties among Indiana’s trees.
Trees are self-regulating, they sprout only as many leaves as they can support. While the drought may not have killed many trees, it did weaken them.
Department of Natural Resources plant pathologist Phil Marshall with the says bugs and fungi sense that weakness and attack the tree. He says Indiana‘s state tree, the yellow poplar, was the first to show the effects of a drought.
“They do carry a lot of foliage and large leaves, and the tree will balance itself,” he says. “If it cannot supply enough water to the top of the tree, it will shut those leaves off.”
Marshall estimates half the state‘s yellow poplars, or tulip trees, have been damaged.
Other species are showing some damage, but Marshall says the full effect of the drought will not be clear for as much as another six years.
Four tulip trees on the statehouse lawn have been judged beyond saving and are being cut down a little at a time.
Marshall says there is nothing foresters can do to help trees which are already weakened. But trees which were scheduled to come down in the next five years anyway may be harvested early, in hopes of keeping insect infestations from spreading.