Another common tree foliage problem being reported now is oak tatters. Oak tatters has become a moderately common and recurring problem in the spring. Affected oak leaves have a deformation that is distinctive - most of the leaf tissue which should be present is missing. Usually there is a thin strip of leaf tissue remaining along the major veins. Furthermore, the leaves often appear to have been stretched. This combination of thin strips of leaf tissue and stretched leaves give the foliage a strap-like appearance and the tree canopy a thin, lacy appearance.
Oak tatters does not appear to be related to any insect or disease activity. The best guess is that tatters is a physiological deformity caused by adverse environmental circumstances, specifically low temperature and/or wind injury to developing buds. As with the hackberry phenomenon , spraying is not warranted and trees will recover in time.
This article originally appeared in the May 15, 1998 issue, p. 59.