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 Pruning Questions

Lack of Blooms and Low Hanging Limbs on Mountain Laurels
August 06, 2014 - My mountain laurel didn't bloom this year but has a few hard pods on it. It is 9 ft tall but very top heavy with most growth low. I need to prune it a lot at the bottom because it has branches hangi...
view the full question and answer

Hedge of native Purple Sage in Austin
November 20, 2008 - Hi, I would like to plant a dense hedge of Purple Sage that will hopefully grow from 6-8 ' tall and about 4' wide. I purchased the Silverado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens 'Berstar Dwarf' variety....
view the full question and answer

Removing Center Stem From Desert Spoon (Sotol) in Phoenix
March 11, 2016 - I have a desert spoon. I hate the center stem. Can I remove the center stem without hurting the rest of the plant? And what is the best way to remove it? I looked for this answer in your questions bu...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane damage to pecan tree
November 12, 2008 - The recent hurricane twisted the top out of our pecan tree, leaving a couple still attached but down on the ground. Could we cut all of the damage off and just leave the trunk? Would there be a chan...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID and pruning in Portage IN
April 09, 2009 - I'm looking for information on trimming a bush about 6 feet in diameter with orange horns in bloom and its name.
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