En Español

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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Failure to thrive of trees in Savage MN
August 23, 2009 - I have a 20+ year old weeping willow. The last few years it is the last tree to get its leaves and the first to lose them. The few leaves that are still on the tree are covered with brown/black spots....
view the full question and answer

Disease or insect damage on a Mexican plum
September 08, 2013 - Help, Our Mexican plum tree is about 13-14 years old. Earlier this year we noticed the trunk is oozing black stuff and whole branches are dying off. We have watched as our beloved tree has lost most ...
view the full question and answer

Black Sooty Mold on Bay Tree
February 25, 2013 - I have a large bay tree and all the leaves are covered with a black mold-like substance on the top part of the leaf. Under each leaf are some black/brown spots. I have washed the leaves with soap and ...
view the full question and answer

Possible freeze damage in Wax Myrtle from last winter in Bastrop, TX
July 25, 2011 - Our Wax Myrtle is about 7 yrs old and in good shape until this past winter when we had several very hard freezes. Now several of the large branches are dead and more are dying each month. We have not ...
view the full question and answer

Whitefly infestation in roses and salvia
June 15, 2007 - Several of my outdoor plants (including Knockout roses and salvia) have a white residue on the stems. If I touch it a white bug jumps off. The residue can be wiped off or sprayed off, but the little...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center