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in Problem solving
Seventeen years ago we planted a Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' and last year I noticed the upper braches failed to come into leaf in the Spring. This year the top half has failed to come into leaf. I have heard of many other Frisias having the same problem and wondered about pruning out the top growth. As this RHS article states, it does seem there is no cure. Sad.
Pruning out teh dead growth is esential to reduce damage form die-back but, if it eventually the whole tree will die - unless it's just frost damage - in which case, you could put it out of its misery and replace it with a gleditsia which has similar golden foliage and no sickness so far.
Thanks Obelixx, this is what I plan to do and I suppose I should have done this last year. If she doesn't survive I have a Paulownia tomentosa currently growing in a large pot, to replace her. It's not the name which attracted me to a Paulownia but I've only ever seen one in bloom, in a park in Lille in Northern France.
I have a similar problem, and used my initiative (a long loppers) to cut out the dead wood. On closer investigation I found that without exception the dead wood seemed to be infested with clusters of tiny, dark red 'eggs' - I say eggs because each patch looks exactly like a clutch of spider eggs. They are in every joint and crevice of bark, and so to be on the safe side I burned all the wood. I still don't know what they are, if indeed they are the cause of the tree's problem, nor do I know if the tree should be destroyed completely. It might be worth investigating your tree a bit more closely.
I've sawn off the obviously dead branches reducing the 20ft tree by half. I saw no signs of eggs but parts of the bark were canker-like and flakey, and there was dark staining on the sawn ends. I think this will be her last year sadly, after seventeen years.
PS Since my inital post I've seen three Paulownia tomentosa trees in Battersea Park and an even grander one in Eccleston Square. It's not called the Foxglove Tree for nothing. Fabulous!