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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 26, 2009

From: Dearborn, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Failure to thrive of Eastern Redbud in Dearborn, MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our Eastern Redbud, multi-stem tree has done well for several years. This year the pods did not fall off, the tree looks anemic, lots of dead stems, no pink blooms this spring. What can we do??


Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is native to Michigan and, indeed, is found growing in and around Wayne County. In Southeastern Michigan you are in USDA Hardiness Zones 5b (average annual minimum temperature of -20 to -15) to Zone 6a (-10 to -5). However, we are aware that Michigan had a really bad winter, lots of cold, lots of snow, wind, ice, all of which could have contributed to your tree's problems.

This Ohio State University website Cercis canadensis will give you several possible answers to your question, but maybe no solutions. From this site, we got this list of liabilities for the tree:

  • often has a functional life of 10 to 20 years in urban landscapes due to a combination of urban stresses, diseases, and pests
  • prone to trunk canker, heartwood rot, Verticillium wilt, and scales, the first three of which can be slowly fatal
  • often leans with age
  • somewhat prone to storm damage with advanced age (due to leaning and heartwood rot)

We are going to offer you several websites on the various possibilities, so you can try to discover what the problem is. 

Canker Diseases of Trees from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension

Heartwood Rot of Trees from Iowa State University

Verticillium Wilt from the University of Illinois Extension

If you are really determined to save your tree, you can contact the Michigan State University Extension Office for Wayne County; possibly they can make suggestions for treatment or recommend a licensed arborist who will come to the site to diagnose and hopefully treat the problem. 

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis




More Trees Questions

Thornless honeylocust trees for Taylor TX
September 21, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Williamson County, in central Texas and I am interested in selecting trees for my backyard. I can't really explain (it may be my Midwestern roots), but I would like to plant three t...
view the full question and answer

Small tree to plant with high bush blueberry plants
May 13, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have four wonderful new highbush blueberry plants. I like to plant a native tree nearby to accent them, but cannot find a suitable one. I'd like a tree that is not going ...
view the full question and answer

Why are branches falling from my pecan trees?
November 02, 2010 - I have tree branches falling that appear to have been cut, not broken,off the tree. Seen most on the pecan trees but had a young red bud die with what appears a clean cut of the trunk approx. 2 feet ...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees not toxic to dogs in Kempner TX
August 21, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, we are looking for shade trees to plant around our home in Kempner, Tx. I saw another family that asked a similar question but we have dogs and holly or oak trees are toxic (my...
view the full question and answer

Protection of Mountain Laurel from Pyralid or Genista moth caterpillars
May 28, 2006 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel. Every year it is attacked by caterpillars. They form a bag for lack of a better word on the ends of the branches destroying the blooms for the following year. PLEASE...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center