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We decided to plant an Oak for my daughter’s first birthday. We bought the tree, which is supposed to be around 2 years old, in a pot and put it in the garden today. This is the first time we could see the base of the trunk:

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The hole’s depth is about half of the tree’s diameter.

Is it most likely to be ok? Or should we contact the company that sold it?

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It might live but is has been severely weakened by decay of the heart wood . The bark layers can keep it alive as water and nutrients flow through the various bark layers but it needs the center wood for strength. The decay will continue to develop.

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  • ok, so I guess we'll replace it right away because the base will bear all the stress from wind, etc. Thanks! – Thomas Apr 10 at 17:51
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You were sold a tree that should never have been on the market. I'm guessing that the lower three feet were covered by a flexible white plastic tube, right? The purpose of this tube in a nursery is supposedly to equip the tree with protection from critters, but in reality it usually serves as a home for insects and a disguise for problems such as canker and the really obvious rot that your poor tree has.

A reputable nursery will remove the plastic sleeve from each tree before accepting it from the supplying nursery; box stores never do this. If only some of the trees at a nursery have sleeves, then I would not shop there - if they don't offer a warranty, then they're intentionally hiding problems. I recommend that you dig the tree back up, place it back in its pot, and try to return it at the place you purchased it. If this was at a reputable nursery, there will be a warranty on the tree and you should be able to get a replacement (obviously, remove the plastic sleeve and inspect the trunk before accepting the replacement). If you purchased this at a box store, you may be out of luck.

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    You are right, the base was wrapped in a plastic sheet and we didn't see it at the time of purchase; we only noticed when we removed the wrap and wanted to plant it. We will definitely talk to them on Monday. Thanks! – Thomas Apr 10 at 18:01

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