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Drought Stress

(December 2012)

QuestionI have a tree that I planted as a dogwood this March, and in spite of continued watering it had withered leaves all summer. I had given it up for dead but now it has sprouted all these red berries - wasn't aware that dogwoods produced berries. Does it look dead to you?


AnswerIt is definitely a dogwood, and the red berries are the fruits that came from the flowers it bore this spring. The plant is definitely scorched, which could be from stress because it was newly planted and we had a horrid summer, but it also could be sunburn if it was planted in direct sunlight. Dogwoods do best in filtered sunlight or afternoon shade. The tree is not dead, but it isn’t happy. I see new leaf buds already set for next spring. For now, just be patient and see how well it leafs out next spring. If you think it is in the wrong location, you could transplant it now.

(September 2012)

QuestionIf the bark is falling off from a part of a tree does that mean the tree has to be cut down because it is dying? Could it just be pruned up to remove the damaged part and the tree be saved?


AnswerIt depends on what is causing the bark to fall off, and the overall health of the tree. Sometimes lightning can hit a tree and cause bark to slough off—damage can be minor or deadly. Many oaks around the state are dying in part due to drought stress, but that can also cause hypoxylen canker to kick in. When this disease takes over, the outer bark usually falls off in patches, exposing either a dry gray substance or a black tarlike one. Usually by the time the bark falls off, the tree is either dead, or almost there. Damage from a weed-eater or lawn mower can also cause bark damage, but usually too close to the ground to cut out without cutting down the tree. Once bark begins to fall, you can’t stop it, but you can clean the wounded area and try to keep the tree overall healthy with proper watering .

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