Thursday, December 17, 2015

What is Mistletoe and can it harm my tree?

Broadleaf Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.) is an evergreen plant that is parasitic in nature, it grows freely on a variety of large landscape trees. Some deciduous host trees of broadleaf mistletoe include Apple, Ash, Birch, Boxelder, Cottonwood, Locust, Maple, Oaks Walnut and Zelkova to name a few. Conifers are not found to often be host of the Broadleaf variety, but can host the dwarf varieties.


Mistletoe plants often develop in rounded form and can reach upwards of two feet in diameter. The plants develop small whitish colored berries that are sticky to the touch. Mistletoe plants are leafy and evergreen becoming most visible in the winter when the deciduous host trees have dropped their leaves. The plants are either female (berry producers) or male (pollen producing only). Many birds feed on the berries and excrete the living seeds which stick to any branch they land on. Older and large trees are often the first to be infested because birds prefer to perch on higher limbs. The down side of this is a heavy build up of mistletoe is most likely to occur in these same larger trees as the birds enjoy feeding on the berries of the mature Mistletoe plants. Often times growths in the upper branches will drop seeds to the lower sections below, spreading the growth even more. Dwarf Mistletoe does not spread in the same way as Broadleaf, instead it's seeds are forcibly discharged from the fruit, dispersing up to 40 feet away.

Image Citation: Paul A. Mistretta, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Once a seed is in place the seed will germinate, during this time it will begin to grow through the bark of the tree and into the tree's water conducting tissues. Within the tissues, structures similar to roots form, they are called haustoria. Haustoria will spread as the parasitic bush grows and spread. Young growths are slow growing and may take years before they bloom for the first time, their succulent stems become woody over time at the base of each growth. Even if an entire visible growth is removed from it's host plant, it will often resprout directly from the haustoria that is embedded into the host. On the other hand dwarf mistletoe is not woody when mature and is segmented with small scale-like leaves.

Image Citation: Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org

Mistletoe can be harmful to a tree that is already weakened but generally does not harm normal, healthy trees. It is possible for individual limbs and branches from healthy trees to become weak or die back. In instances of heavy infestation the entire tree may be stunted, weakened or killed if there are other factors such as disease or drought.

The most effective way to control mistletoe is to remove the infested branches, this will eliminate the haustoria which will prevent re-sprouting. Infested branches must be cut at least 1-2 feet from the base of attachment to be sure you are removing all of the haustoria from the inner tissues of the host. In cases of heavy infestation it may be recommended to remove the entire tree as you can not safely remove more then a portion of the trees crown without causing severe damage or death to the tree itself. If you are not able to prune the tree to eliminate the growth, completely removing the visible mistletoe growth annually will often help limit the spread as only mature growths can produce seeds.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

English Ivy - Hedera helix

Though it is thought to be a beautiful plant by many (myself included), English Ivy- Hedera helix is a very invasive plant in our area and can cause severe damage to properties and even death to the trees it grows on without proper management. English Ivy vines quickly and easily take over areas that are cleared/disturbed, woods lines, brick work, trellises, garden areas, and even tree trunks / canopies. Ivy can decimate the natural ecosystem by girdling out mature trees and other plantings and overtaking native ground coverings. It is native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa and was introduced to the United States by European immigrants. Common uses as an ornamental vine, landscape buffer, ground cover and climbing vine have all made English Ivy very popular. Over the past couple decades English Ivy has spread from a simple ornamental vine to a naturalized (and very invasive) vine in 18 of The Unites States including Maryland.

Image Citation (Ivy): James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

English Ivy is an evergreen vine (one of it's very attractive features) that is a member of the Ginseng family (Araliaceae). It is a creeping or climbing vine that can grown at height of over 90 feet if given the opportunity or structure to adhere too. The leaves are leathery or waxy in appearance, generally having five points in a palmate (hand) shape. They are a deep green in color when young with white veining, lightening in color with age. When mature the leaves produce a pale greenish-yellow flower in the fall season. Once the vine enters a forest it quickly overtakes the native vegetation and prevents them from regenerating, it also interferes with the ecosystem by altering food sources and habitat for wildlife this is by far it's biggest downfall. The vine attaches itself to structures and trees by small hairlike roots, when on a mature tree it can kill it and cause the tree below to die, sometimes rapidly. On brickwork, grouted or mortared surfaces it can easily break through the material causing problems that often times can not be seen due to the vines coverage.

Image Citation (Ivy Infestation) David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The fruit of English Ivy is a black-purple color with three stone textured seeds inside. This fruit is only eaten in small amounts by wildlife as they carry a slight toxicity. When humans ingest the fruits it can cause severe discomfort which is often combined with, diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach, fever, or even the onset of a coma. Rash may also occur in persons with sensitive skin after direct contact with the leaves and/or sap.

Image Citation (Ivy overtaking tree): Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Control of English Ivy is often ongoing and intense. You can manually, mechanically or even chemically remove or address the infestation. With small areas control is much easier, larger more established areas often require a combination of all three methods to truly eliminate the growth. If any roots remain in an area they will likely re-sprout throughout the season. Mulching is another method to help control/eliminate new growth on ground areas, by covering the ivy with a thick layer of mulch continuously over two full growing seasons you can kill the vine. Very large growths often required the use of herbicides often on a continuous basis until the growth is fully eradicated. Tree climbing vines can be cut at ground level prior to applying herbicide to the rooted section of the vine as well as the ground level leaves. Generally the first attempt at controlling or eradicating English Ivy is not successful by any single method.

Yes, it is beautiful but it should never be a recommended planting in landscapes or gardens in our area. If you must have English Ivy in your gardens do so in a container where you can trim it frequently and absolutely prevent the roots from spreading. This type of Ivy is best suited as a houseplant in our area!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Asian Longhorned Beetle - Anoplophora glabripennis

The Asian Longhorned Beetle - Anoplophora glabripennis (ALB) is a serious pest from China, it has made it's way to the United States and has been observed attacking our trees. This beetle's larvae tunnels into trees, causes girdling of stems and roots, repeated attacks can lead to die back usually beginning with the crown of the tree and eventually the entire tree. It is thought that the Asian Longhorned Beetle traveled to the United States inside solid wood type packaging material from China, it has been intercepted at various ports through the country. Within the United States it appears that this beetle prefers trees in the Maple species (Acer), such as Red, Norway, Silver and Sugar Maples and Box Elders. They have also been found on Birches, Buckeyes, Horse chestnut, Willows and Elms.

Photo Citation (Infestation/Tree Damage) Dennis Haugen, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Photo Citation (Adult ALB) Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The ALB are unique in appearance and quite easy to spot. Adults have a deep black bodies with white spots on the back. They are 3/4 - 1 1/4 inches long and have very long antennae that are usually 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 times the actual length of their bodies. The antennae are clearly marked by white bands or stripes on each segment. The egg laying sites within a trees bark is generally oval or round and are chewed out by the female beetle before she deposits a single egg into each. Some trees- Maples most notably, will ooze sap from the egg laying sites as the larvae feed inside during the summer months. Around the base of infested trees there will be an accumulation of coarse sawdust usually found at the point where the branches meet the trunk, this sawdust is caused from the larvae boring into the tree, stems and branches. When the adult ALB finally exits the tree it leaves a large round hole that is about 3/8 of an inch in diameter on branches or trunks. ALB only have one generation per year and adult beetles are usually only found from July - October. A female can only lay 35- 90 eggs in her entire lifetime and eggs can hatch in 10-15 days. The larvae will live under the bark and continue to feed within the tissues of the tree, they then bore deep into the tree to pupate. The adults emerge from pupation sites by boring tunnels in the wood and creating round exit holes.

Photo Citation (Entrance and Exit Wounds) Dennis Haugen, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Currently in the United States the only way to eliminate the pest is to remove infested trees and destroy them by chipping or burning of the material. There are many quarantines in effect around the country to help prevent further spread of the insect (and other insects). As with most pests early detection is the best defense allowing for rapid treatment/removal, this is the only way the pest can be truly eradicated from an area.

If you suspect that the Asian Longhorned Beetle is in your area it is asked that you collect an adult beetle in a jar and immediately notify officials in your area. You can contact your State Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, State Forester, Department of Natural Resources, or State Entomologist. You can also call toll free to 1(866)-702-9938 . To learn more about the ALB you can visit: www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/alb/  or  www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/asian_lhb/index.shtml

Meet More Trees and learn about their pests on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com  or our blog  www.MeetATree.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What is the oozing, foul smelling liquid coming out of my tree’s trunk? (Enterobacter nimipressuralis)

Question:  

What is the oozing, foul smelling liquid coming out of my tree’s trunk?

Image Citation (Photo 1): Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org



Answer:

One of the main diagnoses of this would be Wet Wood -Enterobacter nimipressuralis -often called, Flux or Slime Flux. Flux is a slimy, oozy liquid, that more often then, not also has an offensive smell. It drips or “oozes” from tree trunks, crotches, cracks and branch crotches. It is most often seen on Oak, Elm, Birch, and Maple trees. This sap is more prevalent during Spring and Summer while the tree is actively growing. This sap/flux often attracts insects, contrary to many beliefs the insects are not the cause of the Flux they appear after the flux comes out.


Many different bacterial infections can lead to Flux. Most often these infections begin in the Heartwood or Sapwood of trees and are caused by soil inhabiting bacteria. Wet Wood causing bacteria can grow anaerobically (without oxygen) in internal tissue of wood. These infections on the inside of the trees structure lead to increased pressure on the vascular system. The pressure causes the excess fluid (sap/flux) to ooze out of any opening it can find, usually crotches, cracks in the bark, or even old wounds. When the flux/sap oozes out it leaves behind a White or Grey streak on the bark or branches or the tree.
Image Citation (Photo 2): Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org


Flux/Wet Wood infected trees have internal wood that is wet but not necessarily decayed. The infected portions of the tree will also have a higher pH level then the rest of the tree. Wet Wood infection actually prevents decay from fungi. The spread of Wet Wood/Flux within a tree is limited by the trees natural defenses. Trees have a natural ability to heal themselves often times human interference can cause more harm then, good, this is very true with this type of infection!


There is no specific treatment for Wet Wood/Flux. It is important with any tree that is stressed to make sure you are properly watering (definitely not overwatering) and if necessary, fertilizing. Some recommend removing dead or loose bark in the area of the wound to help keep the area dry. Others suggest creating a drain to allow the flux to ooze onto the ground instead of the bark of the tree, this also helps keep the area dry. It is recommend to NOT prune healthy branches on an infected tree as open wounds can lead to the spread within the tree itself. Deep fertilizing injections can also create new wounds and lead to spreading of the infection. Wet Wood does usually spread into new wounds and injuries so be careful around infected trees even when weed-wacking or cutting your lawn to avoid new injury.
Example of a Drain - One recorded type of treatment 
Image Citation (Photo 3): Tom Hall, Georgia Forestry Commission, Bugwood.org


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Monday, April 6, 2015

What causes the row of holes in my trees? Meet the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker woodpecker


Image Citation:(?) Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, sounds almost like and insult if you have never heard of the migratory North Eastern Woodpecker with that very name.  The yellow bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in the Eastern North America that is completely migratory. Few may remain locally during most winter in the southern most portions of the breeding range, most however head further South as far as Panama.  For the most part the females travel further south when migrating then the males.  With length between 7-8 inches and a wing span of 13 to 15 inches they are an average size woodpecker.  They are larger then a Downy Woodpecker, but smaller then a Hairy Woodpecker.




These birds are known to favor many different species of trees in this area, leaving a tell tale evenly bored rows of holes in their wake.  They make two types of holes while they work.  The First is a rounded hole extending deep into the tree that they probe for sap and trapped insects. The Second is a more shallow and rectangular hole that must be maintained to keep sap flowing.  When new holes are made they are usually kept in the same row or pattern of rows as before.  The wells of sap created by the Sapsucker are also frequented by hummingbirds who take advantage of the free flowing sap.  The holes are most commonly found on Atlas Cedar, Hemlock, Red Maple, Yellow, Paper and Gray Birches.  It seems Birches and Maples are a favorite as they tend to be the most notably marked.  Extensive and repetitive pecking may cause cambium and bark injury and brank/trunk swelling.  Resulting Girdling may kill portions of the trees above the boring injury.  Removing nesting areas for the Sapsuckers, such as decaying Aspen and Birch trees may help limit their activity as they tend to nest near the areas they feed.




                                     Image Citation:(?) Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org



More Cool Tree Facts : www.ArundelTreeService.com