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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - November 06, 2008

From: Evanston, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Over-trimming of native linden tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My huge beautiful linden tree was just way over trimmed. It is planted near the house, so they cut most of the branches on that side all the way back to the trunk. I now have half of a tree. The arborist is claiming some new growth will fill it in come Spring. Is that correct or am I now the sad owner of half of a tree? Thank you so much for your help!!!

ANSWER:

Tilia americana var. heterophylla (American basswood), native to Illinois, is a very large tree, often with sprouts coming up at the base making a grove.  It can grow to 60 to 90 feet in height, sometimes higher, with width up to half that. So, our feeling is that maybe the tree is simply too close to the house. The way it was trimmed is unfortunate, but the branches may have been actually in contact with the siding, which is never good. Not only that, but the roots of that tree are probably well under your foundation. Obviously, there's not anything you can do about the tree's position now, but it is something to keep in mind the next time a tree is planted. Some new growth will no doubt come out on that side, but it is always going to be lopsided, we're afraid. We don't know how old or how big the tree is now, but possibly, over time, the lower branches all the way around could be trimmed up, giving the tree a taller trunk, which seems to be the way the tree grows naturally. 

Read this article from Floridata on Tilia Americana for more information and pictures.

 

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