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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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Monday - July 11, 2011

From: Elida, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Tulip trees losing bark in OH
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I do to preserve the tree?

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, we cannot accurately diagnose a problem like this without actually seeing the plant and recommend you contact your local agricultural extension service.  They will either be able to help you or recommend a reputable arborist.

Generally, when trees lose their bark it is due to physical damage either by humans (mowers or string trimmers) or gnawing rodents (usually mice during the winter).

Although it doesn't sound like you have mulch around the base of the tree (to keep the grass and the grass mowers at a safe distance), that can be a problem if it is piled too deep around the tree.  It can make the rodent problem worse by creating a great winter nesting spot or can actually cause the tree bark to rot and effectively girdle the tree and ultimately kill it.

We hope you are able to figure out what the cause of the damage is before your trees' health is compromised and you lose them.

 

 

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