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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 10, 2006

From: Tinley Park, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Bark damage to Tulip Tree
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have a tulip tree planted. It is about 9-10 years old. Two years ago the tree looked as though the trunk was cracked. Maybe hit by lightning after a storm. This year the bark on the side of tree that was cracked has peeled off to bare wood. The tree flowered and is very green. Will the tree survive? Does it maybe have a disease? Is there anything I can do to help the trunk become healthy again?


There is a good possibility that your tree will survive and live to a ripe old age. It is not uncommon for trees to sustain damage to their trunks which results in loss of bark. In most cases the damage done is permanent and a visible scar remains on the side of the tree throughout its life. If the damage is slight the wound sometimes grows over and the dead wood beneath is hidden.

Whether or not your tree survives depends on the severity of the wound and how successful the tree is in creating healthy scar tissue around the wound. Open wounds on the side of trees sometimes become entry points for pathogenic diseases and damaging insects. Very often the negative consequences do not develop for years or even decades.

One serious consideration though, is the possibility of the tree falling and causing harm to people, homes or other property. Trees with damaged trunks will sometimes break during windstorms and fall in the direction of the trunk damage. If your tree's trunk is scarred on the side facing your home and is near enough to cause damage if it falls, you might want to consider having the tree removed. If it's in a location where it is unlikely to damage anything by falling, you have little to worry about.


More Trees Questions

Looking for a Privacy Barrier Plant for NC
August 21, 2014 - I am trying to determine the best plant for a privacy barrier for my area in NC that has clay soil. I have a 6 foot high fence but need something 12 feet or taller. It has to be something that does no...
view the full question and answer

Why is cedar pollen so heavy this year?
January 08, 2011 - Dear Mr Smarty, Is this year a heavier than normal year for cedar pollen?? If so why?
view the full question and answer

Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
November 03, 2007 - What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of l...
view the full question and answer

Is a Mexican plum planted last Spring in Houston ready to bloom
April 08, 2011 - I live in Houston, TX. I bought my Mexican Plum last late Spring. It was about 4' tall. It is now about 6' tall, very healthy with lots of beautiful leaves. It gets a lot of sun. It did not blo...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center