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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - November 08, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Persimmon trunk grown around fence rail in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Texas Persimmon in my backyard that is about 12-15 feet tall. It's been growing next to a chain-link fence and over the years, the top rail of the fence has cut into the bark on the trunk. After 6 years of owning my house, I've finally gotten around to cutting off the offending rail. What should I do (if anything) to repair the damage that has been done to the trunk? The tree is healthy and there doesn't appear to be any rot, although there is about a 5-10 degree bend in the trunk where it was growing around the post.

ANSWER:

Congratulations! You get this week's Mr. Smarty Plants Question We Haven't Been Asked Before award. A fence rail growing INTO a tree trunk is, at least for us, a unique situation. And it also sounds like you have a single-trunk persimmon, which is somewhat unusual. If you follow this link, Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon), to our webpage on the tree, you will find just about everything we know about this tree, including this description:

"Shrub or small tree with very hard wood, usually multi-trunked."

So, apparently, naturally or by design, you have a single-trunk persimmon. If it were multi-trunked, simply pruning the trunk that had grown around the fence rail would alleviate the problem. If you do this, wait until it gets a little cooler, maybe December. Woody plants in the Southwest should be pruned from November to February, during their dormancy.

We guess the real question here concerns the appearance of the tree. If that is the only trunk, you will just have to allow it to continue to grow the way it is; the eccentricity of it might be one of its charms. If there are other healthy trunks, we would definitely recommend pruning that trunk below the damaged area. Please read our Step by Step Article on How to Prune a Tree.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

More Trees Questions

Non-blooming crape myrtle in Italy, TX
June 25, 2008 - It's Italy, TX, again! Thanks for the advice and links, and I'll study those..but here's where I'm stumped on crape myrtle. I have two (almost) trees because they've been planted over 15 years ...
view the full question and answer

Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
February 02, 2008 - I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill th...
view the full question and answer

Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
November 12, 2012 - There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple...
view the full question and answer

Is Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) really native to the Texas Hill Country?
October 12, 2010 - I had heard that the Ashe Juniper was not native to the hill country or even Texas. Is this true? What is their history? They sure make it hard for the elms and oaks to thrive. We have decided to re...
view the full question and answer

Trees with white blossoms in Crockett, Texas
March 21, 2015 - What are the trees that are blooming just East of Crockett Texas (off of Hwy 21) right now - fairly large trees - multitude of white blooms - almost like a wild plum or pear, but tree seems too large?...
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