I've just noticed these white growths on a tree in my garden (UK). Does anybody know what it is, what I should do about it?

I believe the tree us a Salix Integra

Growth on tree pic 1 Growth on tree pic 2

Thanks for your help


Here's a picture to show size and environment:

Tree picture

Its not really very big, about 4' tall I'd say

And a closer picture of some of it

enter image description here

  • need a closeup picture to see if @stormy is right and it is scale or it is fungus.
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 19:53
  • Great pic! I'd love to show you how to prune this guy. Ask a new question and we'll talk. Lovely plant, extremely hardly...it is a willow after all. Easy to spray NEEM. It is scale, if it is a fungus...I'll be newly educated! Please ask about pruning and please send info about results!!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:02
  • And take a look at the little maple to its left for possible scale. Love to show you how to prune that little guy.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:04

3 Answers 3


You've got a horrible scale infestation. The best and most environmentally kind treatment would be NEEM. Read the label (5X) and please spray at night as it is not clear that this stuff (NEEM) doesn't harm bees. Soak the scale as well as all undersides of branches and leaves. Spray the top of the soil around base. Scale is pretty easy to control and this NEEM works well. If this tree is very large, get a professional to spray. Perhaps putting it on schedule for a few winter dormant oil sprays. Nothing stronger should be necessary. Add a picture to show tree's size, environment for more detailed help...Prune (use bypass shears sterilized with alcohol before and after) to clean out dead branches, branches that are oriented towards center of tree and branches/twigs that are small in diameter in relation to the branch or trunk from which it grows.

  • Added some more pics if that helps Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:02

Is it my imagination or do I see a wire wrapped around the trunk halfway down the base of the tree? If that is the case this could have happened when the tree was planted. A wire loop attached to a stake is a common thing and dangerous to a plants health if left on for many years. It kills the circulatory tissue which brings nutrients and water from the soil to the leaves.

This could have weakened the tree and allowed the scale to get a hold.

If the tree does not look healthy then cut it down to a few inches above the ground. It will regrow quickly and be more of a shrub for a few years.

  • I just looked and there was a piece of string tied around the trunk. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:02
  • Good job Kevinsky...string, wire even plant tags can girdle a tree! The circulatory system is just below the bark, and it is very very thin and delicate. I'd like to see how deep these two plants have been planted. Send a pic of the bottom of the trunks where they come out of the soil! You may have a very similar problem...
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:08
  • Please send close up of scale/fungus. I am pretty certain this is scale but would like to make sure we're giving you correct feedback.
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    Looking at pictures of scale infestation online it looks exactly the same. Kind of white blobs with a brown spot in the middle Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:13
  • Thanks matt and sorry I meant to give you credit for the girdling string!!
    – stormy
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 21:11

Matt, you're in the UK and you won't find Neem, its not listed as an acceptable insecticide here. What you will get though, if you haven't already, is a bottle of methylated spirits, although its not intended for use on plants. Take some disposable cloths, moisten one lightly with the meths and rub it over the woody trunk and branches to remove any scale - check the fence behind, they may well be on that too. Throw away each cloth and use a new one once its mucky. Take care not to get the methylated spirits on the leaves. Rub over the areas you've cleaned on the plant with a wet cloth afterwards, just wet with ordinary water. You should not need to do any special pruning to control the scale - this particular form of the insect does not affect the leaves.

And, as someone else has said, try to remove that wire...

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