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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Wednesday - August 16, 2006

From: Nottingham, Other
Region: Other
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Disease problems of non-native Weeping Willow
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Could you please tell me why my weeping willow has got pink coloured leaves and seems very dry the bark is splitting and seems full of wood worm?

ANSWER:

Weeping willow, Salix babylonica is a native of China. While it is much-loved for its elegance when healthy, Weeping willow is notorious for its many problems. Any number of insects and diseases attack Weeping willow. The problem you describe with the bark and wood is likely caused by wood borers. Moreover, the fast-growing tree has very weak wood which is highly susceptible to breaking, especially during high winds.

The pink foliage exhibited by your tree could be caused by a fungus or sucking insects (usually pinkish spots) or by some other form of stress. Some willows feature naturally pink foliage in summer. While S. babylonica is not known for pink leaves, it is possible that stress could cause the change of color.

While no other tree really has the aesthetic character of Weeping willow, its weaknesses may make you want to consider replacing it with another tree that is native, and thus adapted, to your area and not prone to your tree's many problems.
 

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