Bill Pramuk is an independent Registered Consulting Arborist, professionally dedicated to helping people with tree care issues. Visit his website:

For the eighth year in a row, Napa “citizen scientists” participated with the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab in an ongoing effort to track Sudden Oak Death (SOD), the exotic disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks and tanoaks in California.

Driving around town over the past couple of weeks, I have been noticing some reds, yellows, gold, and pinks in trees one expects to be clear green at this time of year in Napa Valley. After all, it is still summer and the first day of autumn is a week away.

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Famous for being the most massive single-trunk tree species, and among the longest-lived trees, giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is a perfect example of the importance of local climate on tree health. The species is the epitome of great size and strength but is actually fragile and v…

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Japanese maple is one of the most beloved trees in Napa gardens. I don’t know exactly how so many people became fans of Acer palmatum and its many varieties, but I second that emotion. They are admirable for their natural grace, cool presence, and bright fall colors.

A recent visit with an avid backyard orchardist reminded me how fruit tree growing is deeply rooted in Napa Valley culture. My work typically involves relatively few species of shade trees, so touring a well-maintained home orchard was breath of fresh air. And it was a reminder of my childho…

After writing about the “Acorns to Oaks” project, I received a number of calls from people offering seedling oaks for the project. I thanked them all but had to decline their offers. That project is mostly about planting acorns directly on the site where they are to grow for life. And last y…

I have been asked to be on the panel of speakers for an upcoming presentation on the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative (WOWPI) on March 12. The event is to be sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Napa Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Last week, watching a documentary on the life of Dr. Marian Diamond, a UC Berkeley professor of anatomy, it occurred to me that her work on brain anatomy evokes some comparisons with tree anatomy.

For the seventh year in a row, Napa “citizen scientists” participated with the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab in an ongoing effort to track Sudden Oak Death (SOD), the exotic disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks and tanoaks in California.

Napa Resource Conservation District’s (RCD) “Acorns to Oaks” project received a big boost this year. Nature provided a huge crop of acorns while volunteers came out in unprecedented numbers to plant them at our fall event.

After the bad news coming out of the fires — deaths, destroyed homes, friends and clients suffering terrible losses, and swaths of forest burned — let me offer a perspective with respect to our trees and woodlands.

A friend recently planted some citrus trees and asked me for tips on pruning. That sounds like a simple request, but when you look into the subject you find all manner of complications.

After a recent high school reunion, I got together with a good friend I had not seen in many years. When I visited with him and his wife at their home in Sacramento, he took the opportunity to ask me one of those “well, since you are here, can you look at my tree?” questions.

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During previous years of drought, we saw many trees growing more slowly and foliage thinning out. At the same time, invisibly, trees were rendered more susceptible to certain diseases, decay, and structural problems.

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Taking an early morning walk one day this week we walked past a geyser. In a nicely tended, water-efficient landscape planting, water was spouting about 20 feet in the air and out onto the street. It looked hilarious, but it is a sad waste of water.

A client called, alarmed about his beautiful, mature blue oak. He had been away for a two-week trip. When he returned, he saw the oak, which had looked perfectly healthy before they left, now looking half dead.

Giving a tree talk a few years ago, I used a fishing rod to explain something about tree structure. My wife, Stephnia, said it was an excellent idea, so I will revisit it.

In the course of my work, I meet many pets. Most are friendly dogs. But last week, I had a visit involving goats.

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Last week, a worried homeowner called me about a mature tree that had fallen and was leaning on her fence. She was concerned it might fall farther and cause more property damage.

OAKLAND — Dozens of teens robbed and assaulted passengers on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in Oakland over the weekend in an apparently orchestrated attack, authorities said Monday.

The Civil Air Patrol suspended the search Monday in the Sierra Nevada mountains for a plane with two Santa Rosa residents on board that never arrived at the Petaluma Municipal Airport a week ago.

BERKELEY — University of California, Berkeley students who invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus have filed a lawsuit against the university, saying it is discriminating against conservative speakers and violating students' rights to free speech.

The Sierra snowpack is deep, the reservoirs are full and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the drought officially over. This is a huge relief for California drought-stricken conifer forests and oak woodlands. But, pardon a pessimistic twist on an old saying, “Every silver lining has a dark cloud…

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Last November, I got into the topic of mushrooms and trees (Mushrooms: Another Kingdom Heard From, 11/5/16). The impetus was a sudden flush of mushrooms appearing soon after generous rainfall in October. Then, with a wet winter, mushrooms and other fungal fruiting bodies continued to appear …

I received a most thoughtful Christmas gift from my son Ian, a book I had been looking forward to reading: “The Hidden Life of Trees, What They Feel, How They Communicate, Discoveries from a Secret World” (Peter Wohlleben, Random House 2015).

From an experience long ago, a scary image returns to mind when I think about wet storms and trees.

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In a text message this morning (Jan. 16), a concerned landscape maintenance contractor said “I’m pruning Japanese maples and I see a lot of bleeding on cuts. Any concerns?”

After 20 years and nearly 500 columns in this newspaper, I’ve covered just about everything I see as important in tree care. And I have skipped a few topics that might be of limited interest, like the “marmorated stink bug” and the “bow-legged fir aphid.”

Back in September, I wrote about the Acorns to Oaks project, one of many projects planned and implemented by our Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD) in partnership with volunteers, other organizations like Friends of the Napa River, landowners, and farming companies.

Shinrin-Yoku, translated from Japanese, as “forest bathing” suddenly became “a thing” to me after I heard it mentioned at a tree care seminar earlier this year. The term then started popping up over the following few months.

There is a saying I learned in my retail nursery trade days here in Napa: Fall is the second spring. Judging by the odd assortment of plants in bloom, it looks a lot like spring right now.

When the rains began this October mushrooms started popping up almost immediately.

This spring, about 500 volunteers joined in the effort at 23 areas in coastal California to map Sudden Oak Death (SOD). Napa had a good-sized group of “citizen scientists” who joined in to search for the tree-killing disease, surveying over 700 trees in Napa County.

Last time, writing on this year’s rash of leaf diseases, I closed with this: Trees that have good vitality tend to be more resilient. Pay close attention to growing conditions in the tree root zones and correct any problems as much as practical.

A series of calls, emails and personal observations prompts me to address this topic: an unusual outbreak of leaf diseases.

Too often, pruning is urgent damage control, or catch-up work on long-neglected trees. Ideally, for transplanted landscape trees, it is a long-term and low-intensity process beginning when the tree has begun to form branches.

While the improvement in rainfall last winter and this spring brought us some relief from drought it also brings an increased risk of Sudden Oak Death disease spreading from infected California bay laurel trees into susceptible oaks.