I have a crab-apple tree for a few years that was fine, as much as I can tell, however this year it didn't grow leaves. This is south Canada zone and all trees around are green for many weeks now. There was a few days of frost a month back, other plants seems to have handled it well. Also, on the bark there has been that looks like mold for a few years now, it didn't change much.

Basically my question is - does it mean the tree is dead? If not, how can I save it?

For reference, I took these today:

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It doesn't look too good - I note the bark lower down on the main trunk appears to have a longitudinal crack and parts of the bark are lifting off. Try scraping back the surface on some of the smaller branches with a fingernail if possible - if it's dry and brownish inside those branches are dead, which likely means the tree has died. The deposits are actually lichen, not mould, and these deposits tend to be more extensive on sick or dead trees, although small amounts on living woody plants are not unusual and are not a threat.

  • 1
    Any live areas in the bark will be green below the surface at a small nick or cut. May 16 at 19:04
  • 2
    To my surprise, I've scratched one of the worse looking branches and it was wet and green. I probably give it another season. Thank you so much both for your advice!
    – itarato
    May 17 at 12:07

@Bamboo 's answer is nicely non-invasive. But let me share my thoughts (which might have better been a comment).

When you decide to kill it. Take a knife and slice several cm of the base trunk(vertically!) - about 3 times as deep as the bark is thick (so bark + twice more). Any moisture? No? Kill it then.

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