WSU Extension


Linden(Tilia) : Leaf scorch (marginal leaf necrosis)
(revision date: 6/11/2014)

Browning and dieback of leaf margins and tips can be a symptom of several problems that restrict water flow to the leaves. Drought, excess heat, excess sunlight, overfertilization, and herbicide injury are all possible causes. Damage to the root system or trunk may also show as wilting and leaf necrosis due to the inhibition of water uptake and movement. Salt damage may occur on plants growing near sidewalks due to winter use of de-icing products. Some lindens including Tilia americana (American linden or American basswood) are reported to be intolerant of air pollution and may develop marginal leaf necrosis or other leaf damage if exposed to high levels of pollution.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Do not apply herbicides near susceptible trees or when drift is likely to occur. Use special care when applying broadleaf weed killers to turf near ornamental plantings.
  • Use a layer of organic mulch over the root zone to retain soil moisture and to moderate soil temperatures.
  • Examine trunks for damage from string trimmers, cankers, or other injury.
  • Provide proper watering and nutrition. Lindens prefer deep, rich, well-drained soils and plenty of water, but extremely wet or waterlogged soils may damage the roots’ ability to take up water. Excess fertilizer, particularly during hot weather, can result in leaf damage.
  • Do not plant lindens in areas with high air pollution. Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata) is reported to be more tolerant of air pollution than other species.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

None recommended

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Caption: Leaf scorch on linden (air pollution)
Photo by: P. Kapitola,
Caption: Marginal leaf scorch on littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)
Photo by: J. Berger, USDA Forest Svc,
Caption: Marginal leaf scorch on littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)
Photo by: J. Berger, USDA Forest Svc,