No Bark on This Tree and Still alive??

mccloud9April 19, 2008

We were flooded out last December and our goat decided to eat all the bark off of our Apple tree. Now it is April, and the tree is blooming. There is moss on the tree, and I added Miracle grow to it and now it is acting as if it is AOK?? Anyone know why this tree is still growing and blooming? Shouldn't it be dead with no bark, or is the moss what is keeping it alive?? It's just crazy, for all intents and purposes, this thing should be dead. Anyone heard of this happening before?

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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The core of a tree is live also. I've barked a cherry plum with a hatchet and had it act like nothing had happened also.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 1:37PM
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wisconsitom

Depends on what you mean by 'all the bark''. If the outer bark only was eaten, then the nutrient delivery system which lies just inside the bark could still be intact. I've seen this happen with burning bush euonymous several times-completely girdled by voles, yet continuing to live as though nothing had happened.

There is another more ominous possibility-trees store much energy in all their parts, and this apple could just be running on this stored nutrient base. Once it's used up, well........

+oM

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 2:12PM
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lucky_p

What +oM said.
If this tree is completely girdled, all the way around, then it is just 'running on stored energy reserves, and the sugars manufactured in the leaves will not be able to be translocated back down to the roots. The top will eventually die - maybe not this year, but certainly within the next 2 or 3.
Be on the lookout for beaucoup new shoots popping up below the girdled area. The auxins, etc. produced in the the terminal buds of the top will not be able to flow back down through the interrupted cambium to nourish the roots and so far as the tree 'knows', someone cut it off with a chainsaw at the lowest point of the girdling injury.

If above the graft union, you could allow a new shoot to grow and become your new apple tree, but if shoots are coming from below where the graft union was, you may need to consider removal and replanting or learning how to graft and putting a new named-variety(you could even bud material from the still-growing top) apple on the most vigorous shoot.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 4:54PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The plum is still there, years later. I chopped on it pretty good. It seems sapwood being live (rather than the tree being a dead woody core with a sheath of live cambium around the outside) allows some trees to survive this kind of damage.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 6:12PM
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spruceman

If the cambium layer has been severed all the way around the tree, it will die--but maybe not right away, as others noted above. If some of the inner bark remains, the tree will survive for a long time and grow wood and bark over a portion of the damaged area. Eventually the part that has had all its bark removed will rot and the tree will break.

One other possibility, one that would not seem to apply in your case, is if the tree has had its cambium layer completely severed, but also has a root graft to another tree, its roots can live on the resources provided by the tree it is grafted to for a very long time--until the place where the cambium was severed rots and the tree breaks off. With root grafted beach trees, I have seen the one "girdled" take 15 years or more to die!

--Spruce

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 8:34PM
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