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 back Texas Star hibiscus in Granbury TX
February 26, 2009 - Can I trim back my Texas Star Hibuscus? And when do I do that?
view the full question and answer

Cutting back of non-native Salvia Elegans in Portland OR
December 31, 2011 - I did not trim back my pineapple sage in the fall. It is now winter and the plants are bare sticks. Should I cut them back or leave them alone?
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native oleanders
September 28, 2011 - I have an oleander that has become to "leggy". I read the pruning instructions, but where I want to prune, there are not any leaf nodes. Can I trim below at the base, or will I hurt the plant? I ...
view the full question and answer

Existing live oak taking over in Monahans TX
March 22, 2011 - I have just purchased a home with a huge Live Oak tree in the front yard. The previous owners have over the years allowed the sucker roots to grow unchecked. The tree is shading most of the lawn (di...
view the full question and answer

Taking down a Century Plant blooming stalk from Fair Oaks Branch TX
August 09, 2013 - Our century cactus looks like it's in the final stages of blooming and I read on your site that the original plant dies. Can we go ahead and cut down the tall blooms?
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