Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
15 ratings

Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: Palo Cedro, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Fungus on trunk of non-native weeping willow in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Palo Cedro, CA and have a weeping willow tree with with what appears to be be some type of fungus growing all over the trunk of the tree. It is a brown color and can be broken off in big chunks. It is not part of the tree or root system. Could you please give me your opinion on what it is and if there is anything I can do about it? It is about 20 feet tall and about the same distance wide. It is a beautiful and healthy tree aside from this problem. Thanks for any help you can give. Don

ANSWER:

We found a couple of plant diseases that particularly seem to like members of the genus Salix, or willow. The particular willow you have, of course, is not native to North America, but to China and is Salix x sepulcralis. Willows are weak wood and disease prone, fast-growing but short-lived. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we promote the use and propagation of plants native to North America. In this particular case, it probably doesn't matter if the plant is native or not.

The two diseases that we found that we believe fit the description of symptoms that you gave us are Crown Gall  (University of Maine Pest Management Labs) and Canker (Iowa State University Extension site on Fast Growing Trees).

Images of Canker on willows

Images of Crown Gall

From the description you gave us of the problems your tree was having, we would say the best thing to do is get it down and disposed of before the disease can spread to other plants in the area. If you prefer, you might have a trained arborist look at it, and see if it's worth the effort to try to save it.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Green Pearls or String-of-Pearls plant
August 13, 2015 - Years ago I had a plant I called green pearls because that's what it looked like. It was an inside plant. Can you please help me with this? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Recovery from transplant shock for bougainvillea
July 12, 2007 - I live outside of Phoenix. I just bought a bougainvillea in a large pot. It was doing nicely until I brought it home. I placed it in a sunny spot in my front yard inside of a large volcanic rock that ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native bi-color iris from Spring Branch TX
August 18, 2011 - Bi colored iris. I have four plants planted around our water feature last fall. Up until recently they all looked very healthy, yet not blooming. Several weeks ago I noticed that two of the plants ...
view the full question and answer

Something eating cannas in Austin
July 14, 2012 - What is eating my cannas?
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Woodcreek TX
January 27, 2012 - I would like to attach a photo of a weed in my lawn and have you identify it. How do I send a photo? I have been told it may be ground ivy. Please tell me how to kill it without damaging the lawn.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.