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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 - September 10, 2009

From: Greenville, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native weeping willow in Greenville NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live on the border of Zones 5b and 6a and have a weeping willow that grew so much in only 3 years and did quite well. However, there are aerial roots growing on its bark as well as part of the bark came off of the lower trunk. Underneath it was infested with water beetles. Are they harmful to this tree? In addition, there were at least 2 feet, in length, of roots growing under the discharged bark. While I believe the aerial roots are normal, are the roots that were/are under the bark normal? Should we take steps to get rid of the beetles? Should we cut these roots as they are now exposed on the south side of the tree or just leave them? Thank you very much. I really appreciate and welcome any suggestions you may offer.

ANSWER:

Thank you for your question. While we would like to answer all questions we receive, Mr. Smarty Plants' expertise is limited to plant species native to North America, their habitats and cultivation. Limited resources require us to decline answering questions that delve into other areas. We hope you understand.

Non-native to the United States, Salix x sepulcralis is a hybrid of a Chinese species (Peking willow) and a European species (white willow), and is said to grow in Zones 5 to 8 in the United States. It is weak-wooded, fast-growing and, therefore, short-lived. It has aggressive roots, can lift sidewalks and interfere with sewer lines, often growing on soil surface, making a problem with mowing. It is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, and notorious for littering the ground beneath it. You might check out this University of Florida Extension website on Weeping Willows for more information as well as this Q&A from North Dakota State University Extension on weeping willows.The UBC Botanical Garden Forum is also a good source of information on non-native plants. 

 

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