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Diagnostic Services
at Michigan State University

101 Center for Integrated Plant Systems
East Lansing, MI 48824-1311
Phone: (517) 355-4536
Fax: (517) 432-0899

Tebuthiuron Injury on Landscape Trees

Base of ash tree

Base of oak tree

Cottonwood

White pine
 

 
Tebuthiuron Injury on Landscape Trees

In 2006, a Montcalm County, Michigan resident noticed several of his mature trees showing signs of decline. As the summer progressed, so did the injury on his maple, ash, oak, cottonwood and white pine trees. This resident had an ongoing dispute with his neighbor and was convinced this person was killing his trees. 
 
Besides the obvious chlorosis, distortion and browning of the leaves followed by defoliation, there was a spot at the base of each tree that was barren of grass and weeds for several months. I suggested we analyze soil collected near the base of these trees for the presence of residual contaminants capable of causing the observed injury. Unfortunately for the trees, tebuthiuron was detected in the soil at 2.3 ppm.   
 
Tebuthiuron (Spike) is a soil-applied herbicide for woody plant control in fencerows, utility rights-of-way, pipelines, pastures, rangelands and other non-cropland areas. Tebuthiuron controls unwanted trees, shrubs and vines after sufficient rainfall has occurred to move the product into the root zone. 

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