You may be noticing a swarm of caterpillars defoliating your oak trees late in the summer and early fall. These may be Variable oakleaf caterpillars (Heterocampa manteo). Outbreak years can effect tree growth and vigor but does not usually cause … Continue reading
This photo makes this Name this Tree installment a little bit of a trick question. As with all diagnoses, we first have to identify the species. In Mississippi, it is often a fairly small, deciduous tree with alternate branching and simple leaves. The leaves are 2″-6″ long, finely serrate, and leathery. They have a long tapered apex and acute to wedge-shaped base. The leaves are dark green above and lighter below, with dense reddish hairs on the midrib. This tree has “potato chip” bark – it curls and peels off in small pieces (often about quarter-sized) that look like dark grey potato chips. It has white, conspicuous flowers in the spring and a small dark fruit that is poisonous to horses and cattle because it contains cyanide. Is there something wrong with the tree in this photo? Yes, it is responding with epicormic branching as a result of herbicide damage. There is very little live crown on this tree and it has a low chance of survival. However, there is no reason for the owners to remove the tree immediately; therefore, they can wait until spring to observe next season’s response.
You may notice an odd growth on the stems of your red oak tree. Although they look scary, there is no need to be alarmed. These are gouty oak galls and are more of a cosmetic problem than a tree … Continue reading
Gouty oak gall Very common on red oaks. Caused by wasps or flies. Old galls look woody; new galls are lighter in color and spongy. This gall is common to red oak species. The tree makes the gall in reaction to insect larvae living … Continue reading
Tree topping is when the top of the tree is shaved off with no consideration for how the tree’s future growth will be impacted. Utility companies often top trees to make room for lines; however, the tree should not have been … Continue reading