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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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Monday - October 31, 2011

From: Quincy, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Trees
Title: Spraying paint on White Pine tree trunks
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Is there a paint that is safe to spray on a tree trunk without damaging/killing the tree? We have White Pines that have ~16" spacing without limbs & would like to 'camouflage' the bare space. If paint/dye could be used, where would we purchase a can?

ANSWER:

It is hard to visualize the situation you are describing and to know if you are trying to camouflage to match the bark or the foliage, but I will try to answer your question. 

A spacing of 16 inches between branches is not unreasonable on a Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine) tree and when it is mature, the spacing will actually be much larger than that so that light and air can reach the inner part of the tree.

It would be helpful to know how big the trees are and what condition led to there being "bare spaces".  Are there wounds where branches have died or been removed or are these bare spaces places where the bark has been removed to reveal the lighter heartwood?  Trees have their own healing mechanisms and will slowly regenerate bark from the outside edges of the wound until the wound has healed over completely.  In the past, the generally accepted practise was to paint these wounds with black, tarry wound paint, but research has indicated that actually inhibits the natural healing process.  The bare, light patches will eventually fade to grey but if you can't wait, you can use a wood stain that does not contain any urethane or latex sealer.  You don't want to inhibit the exchange of moisture and gasses, so paint (oil or latex) is not a good idea. 

I hope this answers your question ... if not, please feel free to post another question with a more detailed description of the situation.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern white pine
Pinus strobus

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