Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Garden Tuesday -- Tree Bark Woes

We have a crabapple tree that has developed an issue over the last 10 years.  I noticed it the first year we were here, but it seemed to be okay, until this year.  It really looks bad.  I'm hoping someone can offer some advice.

What's different this year?  Well, more rain, and constant.  Slower drainage because of that.  The branches are not heavier with fruit.  In fact, I pruned inside the foliage last fall to allow more shade with less strain on the branches.  No playing on the tree.  No pesticides on the tree.  I don't see any bugs, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.  (There is a giant spiderweb very high at the outer leaves, telling me the victims will be coming from outside the drip line.)

The tree itself sits at an angle, not upright.  I believe when it was planted, before we got here, it wasn't tended to properly, and by the time we bought the property, it was too late to try to right it.  We did not stress the tree like that.  The roots are expansive, and some of them are at the surface.

So here's the problem:

This is the trunk.  The bark is "shaggy," and by that I mean split, but still firmly attached to the tree.  Not shedding, but splitting, and the splits have gotten wider.  The trunk has also gotten wider as the tree has grown.

This is where the tree forks, about three to four feet up.  You can really see the splitting here.  The splitting bark used to only come to the bottom of this fork.  now it goes up the branches...

....and then stops.  You can see where the smooth bark remains.

What's up with this?  Does anyone know what is causing this?  Too much moisture?  How to fix the bark problem? 

I don't want to get rid of the tree unless absolutely necessary.  Help!

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  1. I don't know what is happening with your tree, but you might want to take some pictures, and then take them with you and talk to the Master Gardeners at your local County Extension office. Sometimes the Master Gardeners have answer clinics set up at your local Farmers' Market as well. They might want to see a damaged bark sample also. They garden locally, and might have some ideas about what is causing the problem with your tree. If you want to try to figure it out yourself, I have a garden plant troubleshooting guide at my gardening website that will give you some ideas. Good luck!

  2. Hello, I don't know for sure what the issue is. I know that I've seen these cracks, with sap leakage, and the tree otherwise seeming healthy. In that case, I thought it was just the bark was splitting with tree growth. I believe it was a crabapple of mine where I saw this. Perhaps crabapples are susceptible? I'll be interested to hear what you find out. You surely could ask a horticulturist (university) or tree service people.

  3. I haven't seen a crabapple tree in years, but I remember picking them when I visited my grandparents as a kid.
    Hope you work out the issues!

  4. Thanks for linking up. I don't really know anything about it either, though. Perhaps google tree bark splitting?