2009 diseased honey locust: 2009 diseased honey locust

June of 2016 full view: ![2016 full view

We have a honey locust that developed a disease within it's first year and an arborist saw it. He told me it is what they call herpes for trees. It had cankers of some sort on the trunk that had killed the majority of the tree. He said we could cut the main trunk off and create a new main trunk with a zip tie, the nearest large branch, and patience.

After 7 years, it has flourished, somewhat. The trunk has grown around the dead part and it appears sturdy. However, I'm afraid too much of the inner trunk is dead wood and will not provide a sturdy enough trunk as the tree continues to mature. No branches really grow on the affected side of the tree either.

Do we bite the bullet and remove the tree now or will it be okay in the years to come? We love our little sad tree...

Edit: I replaced the close up of the trunk with a full size view. You can still zoom in to see the damage. It starts as a "V" near the base and moves up.

With this new view, do you still recommend removing the tree? And is it a disease or poor transporting/planting?

  • In a desktop browser there is a picture-like icon in the menu atop the edit window. On a smartphone this may be a camera-like icon (set your cursor in the body frame). Note that the pic file must be 2 MB or less.
    – user13580
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    I did it! I had to email them to myself and resize it, but it worked. I'm searching for the original photo from years ago now. Will post it in a few.
    – Jennifer
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:37
  • 1
    Nice job getting the picture posted! I know it's not an easy thing to learn but now you'll know for future postings! I hope you don't mind, I cropped the first one to remove the picture of your phone. Jun 13, 2016 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


Your picture shows that new growth has almost enclosed the old bole. As time goes on, the gap will close and new wood will be added each year all around the trunk. Structurally the tree will be okay for at least a decade or two or more. Along this 'seam' and its edges, however, it is (almost) certain that branches will never develop. In other words, that one side of the trunk will never produce any branches.

Your tree appears to have only three or four branches that are alive. The ones without leaves, I think are dead and should be removed sometime. Were it mine, I would 'chop' it down to just above the lowest leaved branch and try to make it be the leader by repeating the exercise you've already been through. I would use a couple of zip ties to anchor a pole to the trunk and then tie this one branch up into a more-or-less vertical position. At the same time I might prune off maybe half of this branch's length. This will cause new branches to form from the buds at the bases of the leaves at the pruned end. While this doesn't leave you with much tree for now, you will have at least as much foliage by the end of this season and with the beginnings of what could be a nice tree.

Personally, I find these kinds of projects fun - that is why I am into creating bonsai. However, this tree will continue to look rather ugly and will demand some pruning attention to shape it over the next few years. You likely can replace it with another tree that will be beautiful in a fraction of the time for a minimal cost. Honestly, right now I am thinking about how I would like to chop it down to about 6 inches tall and see if I get shoots from the stump. If so, I'll dig it out this fall and put it in a pot and try to develop it into a bonsai. Then, either this fall or next spring I would plug a new tree into its place in the yard.

So, my honest opinion is: replace it;

even though it could be okay for many, many years to come with a bit of work. If its a project you want to take on, I'm rooting for you! You will likely learn a lot about trees in the process (water goes up through the wood, goodies from the leaves come down in the inner bark, there's cambium in between that makes the bole diameter increase annually, etcetera, etcetera).

  • Thank you! The first picture is within the first year, 2009. The second one is today. It is very hearty, considering. I tried uploading a full view of it today. Maybe I'll edit and do one side by side. I have a few more pictures I'd like to show on here.
    – Jennifer
    Jun 5, 2016 at 19:07
  • Back in the day, there were cankers. It could be from poor planting. The company who did our landscaping went bankrupt before weer could ask them to replace it and our homebuilder said unless it was completely dead, they wouldn't replace it. The entire back side of the tree died and was a dark brown color while the front side grew just fine. It slowly wrapped around, encasing most of the trunk. It starts maybe 3 feet from the base. It's there a way to add more photos? @kevinsky I addressed you in this as well. Sorry, I meant to add as a new comment.
    – Jennifer
    Jun 5, 2016 at 19:12
  • I changed the picture and added a comment in the original post. Are your feelings the same?
    – Jennifer
    Jun 5, 2016 at 21:13
  • It looks to me like you've already won most of the battle. A little pruning for shaping and you can have a beautiful tree in short order. Even though branches won't sprout from and around the scar you will be able to have branches above it, if you don't already. Once you have those, the scar will close even more rapidly. Get rid of those stakes, prune a little now for shape and I think you are good to go, since you live this tree and have a sentimental history with it. I'm much enamored of my trees too, some for similar reasons.
    – user13580
    Jun 5, 2016 at 22:12
  • Thank you. The stakes have been gone for 5 years or so. Then you think the trunk will get big enough to sustain it long term?
    – Jennifer
    Jun 5, 2016 at 22:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.