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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - August 09, 2014

From: Santa fe, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Treating splits in a Cottonwood tree trunk
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

How to treat slipts in trunk of 4 year old Cottonwood tree.

ANSWER:

Having never seen a slipt in a Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood) trunk, I am betting that you meant "split" in the bark.  If so, you shouldn't worry too much if the splits are small.  This web site gives some suggestions as to how you can treat bark splits so as to minimize any damage.  At the age of 4 years, your tree may be simply forming the fissured bark that characterizes older cottonwoods.

If your problem is splits in the trunk wood itself this could be a more serious thing.  The most likely cause in Arizona would be sun scald.  Another web site offers suggestions for treating splits in living wood.  Such splits, if small, will probably heal on their own.

You are probably aware that cottonwoods require a lot of water.  Is it possible that you have not been giving your young tree enough?  Drought stress might be a cause of splitting.

 

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