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
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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Yellowing leaves on Mexican Plum in Salado, TX.
July 24, 2013 - I do live in Cental Texas (Salado) and I have the same problem with my Mexican Plum as the lady in Bellaire, TX. Mine was planted in June in a raised bed and receives sun all day long. Within the la...
view the full question and answer

Berry-looking parasites on live oak leaves
September 20, 2013 - Dripping Springs TX Live oaks. What are these berry looking parasites on my tree's leaves. As many as 4 1/4 in berries per leaf. I have 3 acres with dozens of liveoaks all having them on the leav...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native zucchini in Muskogee, OK
July 23, 2011 - In the awful heat of this summer I am still getting zucchini to produce. But, once it grows about 3 inches, it gets yellow on the ends and dies. Am I watering it too much? (I have sprayed for bugs ...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees with rusty spots and holes on tree trunks
September 21, 2011 - I have live oak trees that have developed rusty spots, small holes on the tree trunks and sawdust on the trees base. They were planted in Oct 2010. We have had a hot dry summer in Texas this year an...
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

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