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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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Friday - July 13, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Escarpment Black Cherry losing leaves in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Plants: We live in Austin off of Mount Bonnell Road. We have beautiful 20 foot tall + black escarpment cherry tree very near the house with leaves turning yellow like it's about to drop them all as it does in the fall. But it's July! We let a neighbor pay someone to vista view trim the top of it at the end of January. Is it possible that the trimming stressed the tree out. Do you think it's dying or temporarily just losing leaves because of the drought. We've started vigorously watering it now that we see the leaves turning. We don't want to lose it! Thanks!

ANSWER:

The Escarpment Black Cherry Prunus serotina var. eximia (Escarpment black cherry) is a handsome plant whose range is limited to the Edward’s Plateau in Central Texas, so it is relatively rare. This link provides some interesting info about this plant.

It is difficult to diagnose a plant problem from just a description, but the NPIN Profile sheet (see above ) describes the tree as being"drought deciduous", ie it loses its leaves under dry conditions. So the drought may be a contributing factor, and your increased watering plus the recent rains may be enough for the tree to start showing signs of recovery. Be aware though that plants can suffer from over watering as well as from under watering. (see greenthumbarticles.com , and  texasforestservice.tamu.edu ). Another source of help is the Travis County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension.

Have you considered letting your neighbor pay for a Certified Arborist to come visit your tree and make an analysis?

 

 

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