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Mr. Smarty Plants - Late leafing and early leaf-drop of Ohio buckeye tree

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Friday - October 28, 2005

From: Troy, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Late leafing and early leaf-drop of Ohio buckeye tree
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We recently bought a house which has an ohio buckeye tree in the back yard. It stands about 40 feet from a large creek in Troy, Ohio. The tree is about 30 feet tall. A strip of the bark is missing. The tree didn't have any leaves until very late last spring and dropped it's leaves earlier than any other tree in the area. Is that normal? How can we tell if the tree is healthy and what we can do to help it other than put a fertilizer stake in the ground near the drip line.

ANSWER:

Early leaf-drop is the signature of the Aesculus genus, including Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra). Most, if not all species in the genus do this, sometimes as early as mid summer! However, they normally leaf out fairly early. It sounds as if your tree may have been lightning struck, thus the missing strip of bark. That could have caused a delay in leaf development as well. Perhaps you should have an arborist look at your tree to give you some on-the-spot advice.
 

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