Hill Country Naturalist

Edgar's picture

Whenever anyone in this part of Texas thinks of a disease of trees, or just thinks of trees dying, they always think of oak wilt. And with good reason. Oak wilt is probably the proximate cause of the death of more mature oak trees in the Hill Country than any cause, other than man.

But there is another fungal disease, called hypoxylon or hypoxylon canker (Hypoxylon atropunctatum) that infects and kills oaks. Both oak wilt and hypoxylon are caused by fungus, both cause a destruction of the vascular tissue of the trees. Red oaks are the most susceptible and quickest to die from both diseases.

That is about where the similarity ends. Oak wilt is a primary pathogen which means it can infect a perfectly healthy host. Hypoxylon is an opportunistic pathogen which means it is always or usually ever-present but only infects the host when the host is stressed.


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