What Causes a Tree To Die in Knoxville, TN?

What causes a tree to die? We grow up with trees being a constant, so it’s difficult to accept that they have a finite lifespan. In this post, Pro Tree of Knoxville, your experts for tree removal in Knoxville, explain more about this topic.

Environmental Stress on Trees

One of the main reasons for a tree dying is that it’s in the wrong spot. An exotic, drought-sensitive sapling won’t do well in an area with frequent droughts. It may survive the lack of water but fall prey to common tree health issues due to stress. 

Environmental stress can include the environment, poor soil, and wind conditions as well. 

Insects and Disease

When you understand tree care, you realize that most plants can resist insects and diseases if they’re in good condition. It’s when the condition continues for many years that it becomes especially problematic. 

For example, oak wilt might cause defoliation and become one of the causes of tree decline. While the plant might survive this for one or two seasons, it will typically die soon afterward due to lack of food. 

Insects are also one of the leading tree mortality reasons, especially when they defoliate the plant. They can also cause significant structural damage. 

Catastrophic Events

These are usually factors leading to tree death instantaneously. It might include forest fires, lightning strikes, ice, or tornados.

Again, the plant may survive, but it is severely weakened. What causes a tree to die in this state is that it can’t fend off pests or diseases. 


Unsurprisingly, it’s people who do the most damage to trees. We harvest the plants in great numbers, using machines to deforest vast swathes of land.

While some foresters practice sustainable methods, others use a slash-and-burn policy. Many experts feel that deforestation is becoming a global crisis. 

In addition to formal tree harvesting, there’s also removal. People may remove these plants for many reasons, including that they’re too big for the space. 

You also have to account for tree death through accidental damage. For example, where a construction crew severs roots while digging a hole or trench.

Old Age

There aren’t many trees that will live to a ripe old age. For those that do, they die one segment at a time. Their overall growth rate slows down, and the tree compartmentalizes the damaged areas. This means that it can limp on for many years, even centuries. 

However, at some point, the tree has less foliage than it needs to sustain itself. In a last-ditch effort to continue living, it sends out epicormic sprouts. These are weaker than normal and only delay the inevitable. The tree eventually dies completely and starts to decompose where it stands. 

Contact Our Team for Professional Advice

Now that you know what causes a tree to die, are you worried about the plants in your yard? Would you like advice on another topic, like root pruning? Pro Tree of Knoxville has the answers, so call us at 865-294-0062 to schedule an expert consultation. 

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