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?

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
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 - 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

Replanting members of Rosaceae family in same spot
May 23, 2007 - HI Mr. Smarty Plants We had two apple (yellow fruit) trees besides out house and they died. Is it ok to replant in the same place with other trees without being afraid something is wrong with the soi...
view the full question and answer

Tree (evergreen) to grow in area with high water table
March 27, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We live in central Austin, Tarrytown specifically, just blocks from the aptly named Spring Lane. (sometimes we hit water in our back yard within 2 feet of the surface.) We los...
view the full question and answer

Mexican oak and red oak not looking healthy
August 02, 2014 - I purchased a Mexican oak tree and I believe a red oak tree from your center about 1 year ago. Recently I've noticed that they don't look as healthy as they have been, and I just looked at the leave...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on arborvitaes
March 28, 2005 - Hello, I live in Allentown, PA and have a 7-foot arborvitae shrub in my backyard, planted in the corner of the yard where a wood fence intersects with the brick wall of the garage. I have had ma...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Anacacho Orchid tree in Austin
May 17, 2010 - I have an Anacacho Orchid that is about 9ft tall. It is early May and has not started to put out leaves yet on the old growth. I can't even see any noticeable buds yet. It is still alive because I ha...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center