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

Friday - April 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Survivors of a Cedar Elm thicket thinning.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I thinned a thicket of cedar elm saplings, but a few are now leaning excessively. Will they straighten up over time or should I go ahead and cut them too? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

Cedar elm Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) is a large, oval-rounded tree growing 50-70 ft. high and 40-60 ft. wide. It is a nicely-proportioned, hardy, drought tolerant shade tree for a broad range of soil types.

You didn’t mention the size of the thicket or the height of the saplings, but here is what I think may have happened.

If the thicket was large, the saplings in the center were most likely getting less sunlight than the ones on the periphery of the thicket. As a result of the diminished light, they would elongate more quickly than the outer saplings, but they would be spindly and weak with poorly developed trunks. This growth phenomenon is known as etiolation. The outer saplings  with more light grew normally and were strong enough to support the etiolated plants. With the thinning of the thicket, the etiolated plants lost their support and are now leaning. With the etiolated plants now getting more sunlight, they should resume normal growth and become thicker and stronger. In the mean time, you could provide stakes to support the plants until they have the strength to support themselves.

So don’t cut them down; just wait for them to get used to their new environment.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Trees Questions

Transplant shock in desert willow in Austin
November 09, 2011 - We planted a desert willow 5 days ago. It came in a 15-gallon pot but the tree is quite large (~10 ft) with a wide spread. We watered thoroughly during planting but have not watered since (light rai...
view the full question and answer

Sticky stuff dripping from non-native crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - There is sticky sap-like stuff dropping from the very large crepe myrtle in my yard. The tree has quit blooming. This didn't happen last year when it was so dry; it started after we had all the rain ...
view the full question and answer

Brownish-gold worm-looking things on loblolly pines
May 08, 2015 - We have a large loblolly pine that each spring drops thousands of brownish-gold "worm" looking things (about 1/2 to 1" long). Do they have a name and what is their purpose?
view the full question and answer

Fenceline trees for Northwest Austin
January 14, 2011 - We live in Northwest Austin, near 183 and Anderson Mill. Our neighbor recently cut down all their trees in their backyard, which provided nice afternoon shade for us. We would like to re-plant some ...
view the full question and answer

Trees failing to prosper from Denham Spring LA
December 23, 2013 - I live in Louisiana. Out of all of the native trees that we grow, there are two in particular that always struggle no matter what the conditions are in which they grow. The first one, sassafras, is ...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center