Growing Number Of 'Zombie Trees' Are Among Us

Steve Miller
October 23, 2019 - 5:02 pm

Halloween seems like a good time to give you one more thing to worry about: “zombie trees.”

Certified arborist Shawn Kingzette says he's seeing slightly above average numbers of zombie trees this year in the Chicago area.

What is a zombie tree?

"It's kind of a ‘living dead’ tree. Yes, to our eyes, you look at it and it has green leaves. It looks like it's doing just fine. But there might be some sort of fatal problem … either storm damage or the whole tree blows over or a section of the tree falls over. Or, the tree is dying."

Kingzette says he looks for a couple of signs.

File picture of a "zombie tree," or a tree that has effectively died. (Garden Media Group)

"You look for mushrooms growing out of the bottom of your tree, or a lot of mushrooms growing at the base where the roots would be, you see mushrooms coming up."

Holes in the trunk may be another sign, or raccoons or other animals living in the tree.

Kingzette says all the wet weather we've had contributes to the creation of a zombie tree. They’re rotting inside but not obviously showing it on the outside.

Sometimes, he says, they can be shored up. But other times, he says, the undead trees have to come down.