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Our builder planted this tree, and I have no idea what kind it is. The bark seems to split and a lot of sap runs out of the tree. Since I don't know what kind of tree this is, I haven't been able to find out if this is normal or not. A lot of the branches have been dying as you can tell from the pic. It also appears that they planted it in a burlap sack. I only staked the tree because it is really windy here in Oklahoma City and I thought the root ball was moving around a little too much.

Here are my questions:

  1. Can anyone id the tree from the pics?
  2. What should I do with all the dead branches? Cut them off or leave them as is?
  3. Is the bark splitting off and sap leaking a normal behavior of this tree, or is it needing something from me?

Let me know if you need more info!

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm not bothering to identify the tree - what I'm seeing in the pictures is a tree with bacterial canker in its main trunk. I'd have it removed before it becomes a risk to the property or people when it gets rotten enough to fall down in a strong wind. Be good to have the roots bored out too.

If you don't want to do that straight away, then you could call a tree surgeon (arboreal specialist) to see if it can be treated, but usually this condition can only be managed and not cured. It is particularly common in Prunus varieties, meaning Cherry, Peach and the like.

Maybe some explanation of bacterial canker and why it's happened is in order. Canker usually sets in post some kind of injury - either physical (machinery or pruning cuts for instance), or bark borer damage, or things like exceptionally cold weather or drought followed by excessive rainfall causing the bark to split. If the cracks or splits are deep enough to penetrate the tree's circulation, which is in the wood just under the bark, then its easy for bacteria to enter the wound and cause infection. This then spreads in much the same way as bacteria does if it enters the bloodstream of a human being.

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Wow... I had no idea. Thanks for the answer. Can a bacterial canker spread from tree to tree without an injury? Just wondering because the builder planted three trees like this one at different houses, and they all appear to have the same problem. –  Mike Bockus Sep 4 '12 at 16:20
    
Not really, no, its not like an infectious disease. You could have one tree with this problem 10 feet away from a healthy one. Sometimes they get it because they're grafted, and the graft union isn't good, so bacteria gets in at the base of the tree. Sounds like he bought a cheap lot of trees to plant from somewhere which may have been damaged in the first place, which was probably why they were cheaper. –  Bamboo Sep 4 '12 at 16:30
    
Or they were all the same, and the weather made that particular kind of tree grow too fast and split the bark - perhaps a specific flowering cherry or whatever that is susceptible to it? –  Kate Gregory Sep 4 '12 at 17:53
    
I agree that this tree should be removed. It is professionally staked and looks to have a good structure but the leaking sap is usually a sign of bacteria or virus action. –  kevinsky Sep 5 '12 at 1:23
    
I think some cankers are infectious - English Horse Chestnuts are currently being ravaged by a type of canker. Within a century they could be a thing of the past like English Elms. You don't have horse chestnut canker (wrong country, wrong tree!), but I agree that is a very sick looking tree. –  winwaed Sep 7 '12 at 13:10

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