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
2 ratings

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

More General Botany Questions

Phytoremediation Plant List for St. Louis MO
April 19, 2012 - My goal is to transform urban blight plots (some up to 1/4 acre) into viable community gardens having healthy, living soil as their foundation. To this end I am researching phytoremediation (thanks...
view the full question and answer

Where do snake herb and skeleton-leaf goldeneye get their names?
October 05, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Where does snake herb, and skeleton leaf goldeneye get their names from? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

What does spp. stand for in Paspalum spp? From Arlington, TX.
August 11, 2010 - What does the spp stand for when talking about Paspalum spp?
view the full question and answer

Ways to group plants
April 14, 2009 - Are deciduous plants and leaves and roots ways to group plants? I need the answer now; tell me the answer if some are wrong?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Science Fair projects
September 13, 2005 - I would like to know what kind of plants can grow in two weeks? Please answer quickly so I can do my Science Fair project.
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