Iron Chlorosis of River Birch and Oak

Is your River Birch or Oak, specifically Pin Oak, displaying lime green or even worse, yellow leaves throughout the entire tree? If it is, your tree is trying to tell you something very important: it is in the process of dying.

River Birch and Oaks do not do well in many local neighborhoods. If your neighborhood has a lot of clay in the soil, the PH of the soil is such that it prevents the trees roots from naturally absorbing Iron from the soil. Since River Birch and Oaks need iron more than any other mineral, it is necessary that iron be injected in to the tree to green up the leaves or it will die.

Please view the below two photos.

This sick, Iron deficient River Birch would have died in 3-4 years without treatment. We treated it on treated 6/6/17.

This is the same River Birch following treatment by Tree Green taken 7/17/17 – just 6 weeks later!




Leaves act like little solar panels to absorb sunlight and then turn it into the starches and sugars a tree requires for energy. The ‘green’ inside the leaf is chlorophyll, which plays a crucial role in this process. When trees that are supposed to have green leaves have lime green or yellow leaves instead, the tree is much less efficient at absorbing sunlight and converting it into the energy it needs to survive. Eventually, this process will stop altogether. Simply put, without that energy, the tree will die.

In our 47 years, we’ve learned that amending the soil by adding Iron does not work. Again, it is not the lack of the Iron in the soil that causes the chlorosis, but rather the pH of the soil preventing the tree from absorbing it. Therefore, no amount of Iron in the soil will green up these trees. Our experience has shown that systemic injections directly into the trunk with chelated Iron extends the tree’s life for the longest period of time. It is important to note that even with treatment, eventually, 12, 18 or 24 years from now, the tree will still ultimately die from this condition. Unfortunately, we just can’t fool the tree forever by bypassing the roots. Eventually the tree will no longer accept the Iron.

If you have a River Birch or Oak exhibiting symptoms of this deficiency, please give us a call or send us an email to come out and inspect it so we can share a game plan for treatment with you. Once treated, your tree will be much greener and much healthier just weeks later.

Understanding our process and what to expect.
We typically treat these trees once every three (3) years for this condition. However, if your tree is exceptionally yellow, we will recommend two successive years of treatment before we go to the once every three year program. The year the tree is treated, it will green up as shown in the photo above. Then in the second year, a non-treatment year, it will start to show signs of yellowing but will still be greener than it was the previous year prior to the injection. In the third year, another non-treatment year, it will be fairly yellow again. Then the following year, the beginning of the 4th season, we re-inject the tree to green it up again so it can rebuild energy for 3 more years.

We have found that as long as the tree can build energy for the year or year and a half that its leaves are greener, it will have enough energy to sustain it for the three seasons between treatments.

You may be asking yourself, why not just inject these trees ‘every’ year. Cost is one reason. Why inject the tree any more frequently than is necessary? The second reason is that it is a rather invasive process. Treatment requires us drilling a series of half inch diameter holes into the trunk all the way around the tree and inserting plugs or implants containing the Iron, bypassing the roots. They dissolve under the bark and move up the tree with the sap flow. While it is generally agreed upon amongst Arborists, including ourselves, that drilling holes into a tree trunk isn’t a great idea, we still opt to use this process since we know the alternative is a dead tree. It is important to note that Tree Green has never lost a tree from the implanting process itself, only from the Iron deficiency if left untreated.

Please give us a call to have us check our tree  for iron deficiency, and for treatment.