En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - February 11, 2011

From: Ponder, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with Escarpment black cherry from Ponder TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an escarpment black cherry that is about three years old and about 9 feet tall. It was healthy until this last summer when its began to bark peel and sap run out at the base of the tree. The affected area is about 4 inches wide and has almost completely surrounded the base of the tree. I think it will be fatal for this tree. What is going on and if I got another tree, should I expect the same malady? I could send a picture if that would help.

ANSWER:

Prunus serotina var. eximia (Escarpment black cherry) is not shown on this USDA Plant Profile map as being native to your area in North Central Texas, but rather is native on the Escarpment (thus the name) and Edwards Plateau of Central Texas. From our webpage on the plant, here is a description of its native habitat: "Thickets, woodlands, and lower riparian slopes. Moist, well-drained soil."

Natively, this tree is endemic to the Edwards Plateau, and the only information we could find on possible pests and diseases is titled Black Cherry, and refers to more than one species of Prunus. Please note this excerpt from that website:

"The leaves, twigs, and bark of black cherry contain cyanide in bound form as the cyanogenic glycoside, prunasin. During foliage wilting, cyanide is released and domestic livestock that eat wilted foliage may get sick or die." It is also known that consuming the seeds of the Prunus genus can result in serious illness or death in humans.

The problem your tree is having does not seem to be generated by the climate or soil in which you are growing it, but may rather be attributed to the fact that it is not growing in conditions considered optimum for it.

Since we are neither plant pathologists nor entomologists, we would suggest you consult the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Denton County, where they may have encountered similar cases in your area. Your question was should you expect the same malady in a replacement? In view of the fact that this tree is not native to your area of Texas, we would consider it wiser to replace it with a tree that is native. Plants native to an area consume less resources and are more resilient in resisting disease and insect stress. You can go to our Recommended Species section, click on North Central Texas on the map, and then select "Tree" under General Appearance in the sidebar on the right. This will give you a list of several trees that should do well in your part of the state; following each plant link to our page on that plant will give you more information on expected size, light and moisture requirements, bloom time and so forth.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Prunus serotina var. eximia


Prunus serotina var. eximia


Prunus serotina var. eximia


Prunus serotina var. eximia

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Recovery of water-stressed Agarita
August 11, 2014 - Hello! I planted a small agarita at the end of May and then left town for six weeks. During that time it was supposed to receive weekly deep irrigations to help it establish, but it seems that som...
view the full question and answer

Adventitious sprouts from Live Oak in Dallas
February 26, 2011 - How do I kill Holly growing in my yard? I have a Live Oak tree growing in my Bermuda grass lawn. The holly grows under the tree from the trunk extending out about 12-15 ft. It grows right in with the ...
view the full question and answer

Watering Houseplants with Soapy Water
August 22, 2011 - I accidentally watered my house plants with a container that had a some dishsoap in it. Will they be okay? One of the plants is a 20yr old cactus, with small roots.
view the full question and answer

Mountain Laurels are dying in Georgetown, TX.
April 02, 2012 - Ten year old Mountain Laurels both last year and this spring have had entire branches turn brown just after blooming this Feb. Round Rock Arborist suggested I contact you. Last year one of my laurels...
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping on native Texas Mountain Laurel in San Antonio
September 20, 2008 - Please help. We have a beautiful TX Mountain Laurel in our front yard. This year the leaves are dropping like snow in the north. What do you think is wrong with our tree?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center