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

Tuesday - December 27, 2011

From: Eureka Springs, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Cause of trees losing bark in Arkansas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in very rural Arkansas and we did have extreme heat this past summer and since then I have noticed several trees in the woods that have lost huge strips of their bark and I was wondering if it was because of the heat?

ANSWER:

There are several reasons that a tree can lose its bark.  These include mechanical trauma and environmental stress that can weaken the tree's resistance to infestations by insects, bacteria and fungi.   In urban/suburban settings it is usually physical trauma (e.g., scraping the tree trunk with the lawnmower or striking it with the string of a weedeater) that results in bark missing from trees.  Physical trauma caused by deer rubbing their antlers on trees can happen both in urban/suburban settings and in the wild.  Some of the missing bark you see in the woods is probably due to deer rubbing their antlers to remove the velvet and to establish their territory and attract mates. Other animals (squirrels and other rodents) will also eat tree bark.  Additionally, the extreme heat combined with drought conditions certainly have had an adverse effect on the health of all vegetation.   The NOAA Little Rock website shows your county (Carroll County) in northwest Arkansas as abnormally dry in 2011, but not in extreme drought.  In Texas, not only did we experience extreme heat but also extreme drought.  Your temperatures were certainly high, but again not as high an average as those here in Central Texas. It is reported that 10% of the trees in Texas have died because of the extreme drought and heat. 

So, in answer to your question, if your area has a high deer population, that could explain at least part of the loss of tree bark.  There is no doubt, however, that the extreme heat and dry conditions have stressed the trees all over the southwest this summer causing disease and death.

Here is information (Trees: Damage) about problems with trees and expected outcomes from North Carolina State University and information (Drought, Wildfire and Forest Health) from the Texas Forest Service. 

 

More Trees Questions

Native evergreen for privacy shield in Weymouth, MA
April 28, 2009 - I am trying to find a good native evergreen tree that I can plant in a hedgerow to block noise and light coming from our neighbors property. We would need something that would grow tall because our h...
view the full question and answer

Space between trees from Blythewood SC
April 05, 2013 - I'm planting 4 green giants in a back corner of my yard. I also have a kumquat tree to plant. I have somewhat limited space. What is the minimum spacing between the four green giants and the green gi...
view the full question and answer

Tree with no invasive roots for Los Angeles
July 24, 2011 - I have a large in ground planter sharing the outside wall (on south/east corner) of my house in east LA 90032. I would like to find a tree that grows quite tall (2 story building), but grows roots ver...
view the full question and answer

Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
January 27, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of tho...
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
view the full question and answer

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