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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Salvia farinacea and rust fungus from Kerrville TX
February 22, 2014 - Are Henry Duelberg salvias (Salvia farinacea)susceptible to rust fungus?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native tomatoes from Spokane WA
August 18, 2012 - I have 2 tomato plants in 1 whiskey barrel, they are in abundance with tomatoes. My problem is when the tomatoes start to ripen, half green & half light red within 1 day the tomatoes are really soft ...
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
view the full question and answer

Beneficial earthworms attacked by fire ants
August 04, 2006 - Is there a right way or a trick to releasing earthworms? I have a friend who has an abundance of earthworms in their soil so I took advantage of the situation. I released them in my freshly tilled gar...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen privacy hedge resistant to verticillium wilt
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for an evergreen, fast-growing privacy hedge (over 6') that is resistant to verticillium wilt and has low water requirements. I live in Monrovia, CA and have to replace hopseed bushes w...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center