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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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Wednesday - February 15, 2012

From: Joshua, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Problems with volunteer tree in Joshua TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 'volunteer' tree which has been in our back yard for about 15 years. It has had the usual traumas, ie. lots of snow, ice, etc. but after last years drought, its bark is coming off and several parts of the tree have died. There appears to be new growth at the bottom of the tree and I can see some new growth on the trunk, but should I go ahead and remove the sections which appear dead?

ANSWER:

Here is a link to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on bark damage. It is from Arkansas but it has good generic information on your problem. Included are more links on the subject.

Beyond that, we really don't have enough information for us to give you much help. You say it's a volunteer, but it has been there for 15 years. It could be a non-native to North America which would put it out of the purview of Mr. Smarty Plants. It could be one of the "fast-growing" but short-lived plants that are frequently sold in nurseries.  Have you seen others of this tree in your neighborhood? Perhaps you could find out from the owners of the other property what they are. Is the area where the tree grows ever watered, or has it had to tough it out in the drought?

Consider contacting the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for Johnson Co. Ask them what you need to bring in (twigs, leaves, etc) to see if they can identify it

You are the only one that can make the decision about whether to remove dead portions or the whole tree. Does it appear to be a valuable tree, especially in your particular garden? Has this damage been going on for a long time? We would recommend that you call in a trained, licensed arborist. In the first place, he/she should be able to tell you what the tree is, whether it's worth keeping, whether it can be treated, etc. If the advice is to take the tree out of your landscape, we recommend that you engage the arborist to do that for you. Felling a large tree in an urban environment is often more than a homeowner can handle and the tree service would probably be less expensive than the hospital bills or the cost of a damaged roof or replacing other plants. 

 

 

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