White Dogwood: How to Tell If They Are Living or Dead?

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A dogwood tree that is still producing flowers or leaves may not look dead.
A dogwood tree that is still producing flowers or leaves may not look dead. (Image: blooming dogwood tree image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com)

Dogwood trees grow wild in the dappled shade of the understory of forests. These trees are popular in landscaping throughout the United States due to their showy display of white flowers in spring, green foliage that turns red in fall and red berries in fall and winter. If dogwood trees are planted in less than ideal conditions, or they are exposed to disease, they may decline and die. Dogwood trees that have died exhibit signs that they are dead.

Run your hand over the bark of the dogwood tree to feel for abnormalities in the wood. Dogwood bark is smooth and silvery gray in color. If the bark feels loose, broken or has holes created by boring insects, then the tree may have died from the causes of these abnormalities.

Examine the canopy of your dogwood tree. Long after the tree's trunk has begun to rot away the tree's bark, which is its vascular system, will remain in place and allow the tree to produce leaves. If the tree's canopy appears thin and scraggly, the tree may be dead.

Grasp a twig at the end of a branch in one hand and bend it. If the wood is dead, it will break with little effort. If just a few twigs will break in the canopy, the tree may only have a few dead branches. Removing the dead branches will restore the tree's overall health.

Peel back a section of bark from the tree's trunk. If the wood beneath the trunk is gray then it has died. Healthy wood is pale green or white in color. Other signs that the tree may be dead include the presence of bugs such as wood borers or termites or fungus.

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