Name this Tree


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.