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Colorado arborists are getting reports of 'zombie trees' around the state

Signs you have a zombie tree? Dead limbs, cavities and decay.

DENVER — According to the Colorado State Forest Service, people in Colorado may start seeing "zombie trees" because of the cold temperatures and snowstorm over this past weekend.

9NEWS asked Jay Judd, local arborist and Davey Tree Assistant District Manager, what they are and for tips on how to prevent them from sprouting up in your yard.

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What exactly is a zombie tree?

A zombie tree would be a tree that thinks it’s alive but isn't. In other words, it's a tree that probably has a good vascular system, but it has a lot of decay inside.

What causes this?

Frost cracks, especially on the south side of a tree, can create zombies. The sun scalds those cracks and opens up wounds. That's where decay starts, and it's the beginning of a zombie tree.

Credit: Byron Reed

What are some of the signs that a tree is affected?

You may notice your tree has dead limbs, cavities, decay -- even mushrooms on the outside of the tree. Those are signs of what’s going on inside the tree.

What are some tips to prevent "zombie trees?"

Pruning is usually a good practice if you have a limb that may be weaker. That means there is less surface area for the snow to catch -- "kind of like a hand out there catching the snow and waiting to break," Judd said. 

"We’re going through the driest year I’ve seen out here. A lot of trees need water, too, and people forget about that in the wintertime, [so] winter watering is important to keep them healthy." 

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