Dangerous 'Zombie Trees' Are Lurking All Around Texas

·2 min read

Move over, murder hornets—zombie trees are the newest natural phenomenon taking over our nightmares.

Fortunately, these sci-fi-sounding plants are much less menacing than any insect with wings and a stinger. But it's way more realistic that zombie trees are lurking in your neighborhood and you don't even know it. Especially if you live in Texas.

Back in February, a deadly snowstorm pummeled parts of the Lone Star State and caused chaos for the area's unsuspecting residents. Now, more than three months later, those who experienced the extreme winter weather are faced with a new problem in the aftermath of the storm.

Some of the trees that were killed in Texas's historic freeze have not yet shown signs of their demise, and they're more dangerous than you'd expect.

Photo credit: Allard1
Photo credit: Allard1

"They're trees that are dead and just don't know it yet," arborist Matt Petty explained to the Houston Chronicle. "They're in decline with crippling health or safety issues that are not visible to the untrained eye."

Well, that explains the name "zombie trees."

In some cases, the leaves are still green but the limbs look brittle and worn. Or maybe the trunk is covered in fungi and has a few cracks. It's even possible that the tree looks completely healthy, but is secretly rotting from the inside out. According to Matt, it could be years before some of these zombie trees reveal themselves—but most will begin showing real signs of death when the Texas heat hits in July and August.

Photo credit: Arterra
Photo credit: Arterra

So, what's the big deal with a few dead trees? First of all, there's likely more than a few. The Texas A&M Forest Service says that oaks all over the state have had a hard time recovering from the storm. And when zombie trees go unnoticed, they can fall without warning—posing a serious threat to people and their property.

If you're a homeowner and you think you've spotted one, call an arborist for a diagnosis. (Before it's too late!)