Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Tuesday - December 27, 2011

From: Eureka Springs, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Cause of trees losing bark in Arkansas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in very rural Arkansas and we did have extreme heat this past summer and since then I have noticed several trees in the woods that have lost huge strips of their bark and I was wondering if it was because of the heat?

ANSWER:

There are several reasons that a tree can lose its bark.  These include mechanical trauma and environmental stress that can weaken the tree's resistance to infestations by insects, bacteria and fungi.   In urban/suburban settings it is usually physical trauma (e.g., scraping the tree trunk with the lawnmower or striking it with the string of a weedeater) that results in bark missing from trees.  Physical trauma caused by deer rubbing their antlers on trees can happen both in urban/suburban settings and in the wild.  Some of the missing bark you see in the woods is probably due to deer rubbing their antlers to remove the velvet and to establish their territory and attract mates. Other animals (squirrels and other rodents) will also eat tree bark.  Additionally, the extreme heat combined with drought conditions certainly have had an adverse effect on the health of all vegetation.   The NOAA Little Rock website shows your county (Carroll County) in northwest Arkansas as abnormally dry in 2011, but not in extreme drought.  In Texas, not only did we experience extreme heat but also extreme drought.  Your temperatures were certainly high, but again not as high an average as those here in Central Texas. It is reported that 10% of the trees in Texas have died because of the extreme drought and heat. 

So, in answer to your question, if your area has a high deer population, that could explain at least part of the loss of tree bark.  There is no doubt, however, that the extreme heat and dry conditions have stressed the trees all over the southwest this summer causing disease and death.

Here is information (Trees: Damage) about problems with trees and expected outcomes from North Carolina State University and information (Drought, Wildfire and Forest Health) from the Texas Forest Service. 

 

More Trees Questions

Why are my potted Prunus caroliniana plants shedding leaves in LA, CA?
May 02, 2011 - I bought Prunus caroliniana in pots to use as privacy fence on my balcony. Have had them for about 6 weeks and they are shedding a lot of leaves. Some leave are drying out and others have what ...
view the full question and answer

Need for smaller tree with less invasive roots from Ft. Worth TX
June 07, 2014 - The sycamore in the front yard has developed roots larger than the branches. They have decided that the water and sewer lines are perfect to acquire their water from. For this reason it will be coming...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on 3 year old maple turning brown in Lebo, KS.
July 16, 2011 - Hello, one of our five Maple trees which is is 3 yrs. old now, we saw a week ago that the leaves started turning brown and dropping. My question is: Will the tree survive this and return healthy next ...
view the full question and answer

Oak sprouts in flower bed in Colleyville TX
April 04, 2011 - We have a raised flower bed in our back yard that includes 2 live oak trees. We have a TON of shoots that keep popping up and make our bed look very untidy. My husband doesn't think the shoots are ...
view the full question and answer

A Tree for Infant Daughter in Katy, TX
December 04, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We would like to plant a tree to "grow with" our infant daughter. We think she will enjoy measuring herself against it year after year, and will feel a sense of pride as we care...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.