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
1 rating

Friday - August 05, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Bulging trunks on post oak
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Eric Beckers

QUESTION:

I have a huge post oak with a codominant trunk that is bulging between the two main trunks. The bulging is causing the trunks to spread apart, so one of the trunks is getting much too close to the house. We had an arborist look at the tree, and he said it was a very healthy tree, but the bulges are getting bigger. What is causing the bulges, and how do we stop it before they get bigger? We definitely want to keep both the house and the tree.

ANSWER:

When I first read your question I thought about tree burls.  As you can see in the article, the cause for this growth is unknown and removing them often leads to the death of the tree.   Because of their unusual and often beautiful internal grain patterns, they are highly prized by woodworkers.  Since this was the only possibility that I could think of, I thought it would be best to consult a tree expert, Eric Beckers of the Texas Forest Service.  This is what Eric had to say:

"It may not be a burl.  Codominant stems often push out bark and extra wood around their point of juncture and this could be what they are talking about.  Either way, there aren't too many options of dealing with excessive tissues protruding into a man made structure.  One or the other will probably have to give.  Some folks modify the house and allow the tree to keep growing, while others opt to cut back on the intruding party.  Actually, the house construction years earlier probably intruded on the post oak realm.  They're lucky this construction sensitive species didn't fail earlier."

Utility companies have been known to use chemicals to reduce the growth rate of trees around power lines in order to increase the pruning rotational period.  Here is an article with more information, Growth Retardants:  A Promising Tool for Managing Urban Trees, from Purdue University Forestry & Natural Resources.  Eric mentioned that he had talked with other foresters about growth retardants as a solution to your problem and none of them were very keen on them.  However, you might want to discuss the possibility with an arborist.  Eric suggested that you should probably call out 2 or 3 certified arborists to get a better feel for the options available to you, your house and the tree.  You can go to TreesAreGood.com and plug in your zip code to narrow down a search for ISA certified arborists in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Post oak
Quercus stellata

Post oak
Quercus stellata

More Trees Questions

Will smoketrees (Cotinus sp.) grow in the Texas Panhandle region
June 03, 2010 - Will smoke trees grow in the Lubbock-Amarillo, Texas region of Texas?
view the full question and answer

Tree Lost Leaves
September 05, 2013 - Are leaf cutter ants found in Michigan too? My leaves are being completely stripped off the tree. It went from growing very well when we planted it, to having completely no leaves at all. I know the l...
view the full question and answer

Southern Magnolia Damaged by Deer
April 16, 2015 - I have a young Southern Magnolia (about 6 feet tall) that was damaged by deer on the main trunk. The bottom 2 feet looks okay, but where they damaged it and tore branches off, and above that, the leav...
view the full question and answer

Disease and soil disturbance effects on Pacific madrone
April 02, 2007 - I have a couple acres, here in Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills. My property has many, many trees - quite a few are the beautiful (yet messy!) Arbutus menziesii, or Pacific Madrone. Some ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Hedge Suggestions for Tampa, Florida
May 15, 2014 - My back wall is made of stone and is about 6' high. We are very close to a busy road. I need a plant that will reach about 7-8 feet high or a hedge to reduce some of the noise. What plant/hedge would...
view the full question and answer

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