Is My Tree Dead or Dormant?

Telling whether you have a dead or dormant tree may sometimes prove challenging. Have you ever wondered, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” If so, you’ve come to the right place.   

As a top-rated tree service company in Odessa, FL, we’ll uncover how to determine whether you have a dead or dormant tree in your yard. 

Why Do Trees Go Dormant?  

During spring, trees use a lot of energy for overall growth. Trees go dormant as a survival mechanism. In preparation for harsh winter weather, deciduous trees slow down their metabolism and stop producing leaves.   

Trees may also go dormant in drought conditions or during extreme stress. The tree shedding and dormancy allow the trees to rest, conserve energy, protect themselves from inclement weather, and prepare for spring. During dormancy, trees reduce their activity levels and may appear dead.  

How To Tell if a Tree Is Dead or Dormant  

The following easy tests can help you determine a tree’s current state and establish whether it’s dead or dormant.  

Check the Buds  

Healthy trees produce new buds from the crown even during dormancy. The presence of buds shows proof of life. Remember, however, that buds vary in color from one tree to another.  

Inspect the Bark  

A healthy tree will shed its old bark and replace it with a new one, whereas an unhealthy, diseased, or dying tree will struggle to regenerate its bark.  

Check the Trunk  

Inspect the trunk for the following symptoms of death or dormancy:  

  • Missing bark  
  • Dangerous cavities  
  • Cracks and splits that may lead to tree collapse or breakage  
  • Signs of a lightning strike, like missing bark or a long streak, especially if the leaves turn brown but don’t shed  

The Snap-Scratch Test  

Are you still wondering, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” Any alive tree, whether dormant or not, will appear fresh and green under the bark.   

This test involves using a knife to make a small hole to locate the cambium (the green layer under the tree’s bark). Green cambium shows proof of dormancy, while dry cambium indicates tree death.  

Check the Roots and Soil  

A tree with rotten or damaged roots cannot survive. To assess the condition of a tree’s roots, pull back some mud that lies underneath the trunk and inspect the roots and soil. Signs of a fungi infestation or root damage show that the tree may be on its last legs.  

Mushrooms or fungi growing at the bottom of the trunk usually indicate trunk decomposition.  

Bottom Line  

If you still can’t tell whether a tree is dead or dormant, seek professional help. A certified arborist has the skills, knowledge, and equipment to inspect your tree thoroughly and assess its state of health. 

If you notice that only a section of your tree is dead, have a professional remove that as soon as possible before it falls on its own. Trees are hazardous when they have dead branches. If the entire tree is dead, call for professional tree removal immediately.

Trust Your Local Tree Experts  

Taking care of your trees can prove challenging at times. Trust our experts at Arborist Aboard for all your residential and commercial tree care needs. We take great pride in our work and offer multiple services, including:  

  • Tree removal  
  • Tree trimming and pruning  
  • Arborist consulting  
  • Permitting services  
  • Stump grinding  

Call our Arborist Aboard team at (813) 920-4410 to request a free quote for service in Odessa, FL, or nearby. Reach out to our friendly team for answers to the question, “Is my tree dead or dormant?” or to learn a few tips on saving a tree-damaged bark. 


Arborist Aboard is owned and operated by an ISA Certified Arborist and a second-generation tree care professional. We take great pride in our work and the customers we serve, commercial and residential.

Contact Us

8611 Vivian Bass Way
Odessa, FL. 33556
(813) 920-4410

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