En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - December 26, 2008

From: Flower Mound, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Exposed area on native elm in Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an elm tree starting to show signs of dying. It has an exposed area at the trunk of the tree turning white. When it rains there is a 6-inch strip (the width of the exposed area) running up the tree that does not soak up the moisture. This is a great shade tree in the summer and I would like to save it from dying. The tree is around 12 years old. What can I do to save my tree? Thank you, Dan

ANSWER:

Basic elements that influence tree health include sufficient oxygen in the soil, water and light and a proper balance of nutrients. Too much or too little of any of these environmental conditions may cause plant stress. Urban trees often have paving over some of their roots, and can also be affected by pollution. These and other environmental conditions may weaken the tree and makes them more susceptible to insect and disease attacks.  The elm is not generally a long-lived tree, probably because of the problems to which it is susceptible, but 12 years is not very long in tree life.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when an elm tree is in trouble is Dutch Elm Disease, which is an almost-always fatal disease of elms. You did not say which elm you had. In Texas, the native elms are Ulmus americana (American elm), which is highly susceptible to the disease, as well as Ulmus alata (winged elm), Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm), and Ulmus rubra (slippery elm), all of which range from susceptible to somewhat resistant. This site from National Forestry Services Identify and Manage Dutch Elm Disease will give you extensive information on symptoms, prevention and treatment of the disease.

However, the symptoms as you have described them sound more like a canker disease. The information and pictures in this site from Kansas State University Extension Plant Pathology Canker Disease in Elm Trees is more specific. As a rule, Ulmus americana (American elm) and Ulmus rubra (slippery elm) are not severely damaged by cankers. To try to avoid cankers developing, avoid bark injury, such as being bumped by machinery or mowers and edgers. Prune out branches exhibiting cankers and remove them. Some more pictures of cankers.

It is difficult to diagnose or recommend treatment from a distance. We suggest you contact the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office in either Tarrant or Denton counties. Both linked websites have contact information, and they would be in a better position to know about disease or pests of the elm trees in your area. It would probably also be advisable to have a licensed arborist look at the tree and see if any treatment is feasible.


Ulmus alata

Ulmus alata

Ulmus americana

Ulmus americana

Ulmus crassifolia

Ulmus crassifolia

Ulmus rubra

Ulmus rubra

 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Possible causes for plant problems in East Texas
September 06, 2007 - I have been an avid gardener for over 35 years in Texas.I love the wildflowers and use them extensively in my 2 acre plot here in East Texas. There is something really bad going on with my garden: pl...
view the full question and answer

Orange patches circling cedar branches
May 15, 2010 - We have dry rusty orange patches that circle several of our Cedar branches. There are a few orange blobs on different limbs, but they do not look like the pictures of Cedar Rust (no horns). The foli...
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

How to treat bark damage on oak tree
November 15, 2011 - I have an oak tree approx. 50 ft., live in austin, texas. the tree has dropped bark about 3-4 ft above ground, in a section of 4 inches by 8 inches, and the tree appears dark where the bark was. is ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with giant coneflower in Richardson TX
June 05, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants- I have had a giant coneflower in my garden for 2 years now. This year it came up like it always had..got lots of leaves and then withered..turned brown and died. It got plent...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center