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 - August 05, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Bulging trunks on post oak
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

I have a huge post oak with a codominant trunk that is bulging between the two main trunks. The bulging is causing the trunks to spread apart, so one of the trunks is getting much too close to the house. We had an arborist look at the tree, and he said it was a very healthy tree, but the bulges are getting bigger. What is causing the bulges, and how do we stop it before they get bigger? We definitely want to keep both the house and the tree.

ANSWER:

When I first read your question I thought about tree burls.  As you can see in the article, the cause for this growth is unknown and removing them often leads to the death of the tree.   Because of their unusual and often beautiful internal grain patterns, they are highly prized by woodworkers.  Since this was the only possibility that I could think of, I thought it would be best to consult a tree expert, Eric Beckers of the Texas Forest Service.  This is what Eric had to say:

"It may not be a burl.  Codominant stems often push out bark and extra wood around their point of juncture and this could be what they are talking about.  Either way, there aren't too many options of dealing with excessive tissues protruding into a man made structure.  One or the other will probably have to give.  Some folks modify the house and allow the tree to keep growing, while others opt to cut back on the intruding party.  Actually, the house construction years earlier probably intruded on the post oak realm.  They're lucky this construction sensitive species didn't fail earlier."

Utility companies have been known to use chemicals to reduce the growth rate of trees around power lines in order to increase the pruning rotational period.  Here is an article with more information, Growth Retardants:  A Promising Tool for Managing Urban Trees, from Purdue University Forestry & Natural Resources.  Eric mentioned that he had talked with other foresters about growth retardants as a solution to your problem and none of them were very keen on them.  However, you might want to discuss the possibility with an arborist.  Eric suggested that you should probably call out 2 or 3 certified arborists to get a better feel for the options available to you, your house and the tree.  You can go to TreesAreGood.com and plug in your zip code to narrow down a search for ISA certified arborists in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Post oak
Quercus stellata

Post oak
Quercus stellata

More Trees Questions

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

Distance for Escarpment oak to house from Lewisville TX
August 22, 2010 - I am planting an Escarpment Live Oak about 15' from my house. Thats as far away as I can plant it. Will this be a safe distance? How large will it be in 20 years?
view the full question and answer

Disappearing oranges from Satsuma orange in Austin
June 25, 2008 - I had many tiny future oranges on my Satsuma Orange Tree until a few days ago. Suddenly, all were gone except one. They weren't on the ground and the tree itself seems incredibly healthy. It is gr...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for Medford MA
April 07, 2011 - Two quick questions. 1) what trees would grow happily along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford, MA? 2) Would it be o.k. to plant weeping willows? Are they indigenous to the area? I'm not a pur...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a native Texas Persimmon in Austin
October 18, 2008 - I have a Texas Persimmon, approx. 2.5 feet tall, growing in a 5 gal. pot. When should it be transplanted and where? How much sun? Could it grow in a larger pot for a time> Do deer like it? Thank ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center