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 Pruning Questions

Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
December 21, 2008 - There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Repair of broken branch stump on pecan tree
July 18, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, big fan. Recently one of my pecan trees had a large branch break off, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The strange part was there was no clear sign of what caused the damage, i...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Butterfly Plants
February 11, 2013 - I am looking for detailed information on trimming common butterfly plants: crucita, cenizo, sweet-stem, whitebrush, Mexican trixis, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, white plumbago, turk's cap, desert lantana...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back, pruning and dividing native plants
April 21, 2005 - I am wanting to cut back, or prune, and divide many of my native plants but don't know how. What should I do? I bought them all at the native plant sale at the center last fall. We have a family ...
view the full question and answer

Leggy purple coneflower
August 20, 2007 - Last year I planted purple coneflowers and this year when they bloomed they were extremely tall & leggy. I'd like next year to get them to be shorter and fuller. How do I do that & is it something ...
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