balsam poplar weeping

pieheart(6)July 5, 2008

I have a balsam poplar (I think that is what it is) that has been weeping water or very watery sap from where it had previously been pruned several years ago (more than three years).

Is this weeping "normal"? Or is it indicative of something more serious?

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casia(z4-Caledon, Ontario)

It should not weep sap after pruning that long ago. Trees are designed to seal off wounds and eventually (hopefully) grow new wood over them. Weepy wounds on trees indicate there is rot, disease or ongoing insect damage.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 4:08PM
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pieheart(6)

This is going to sound strange, but I am SO happy to hear that! I really hate these trees. In the spring they flower, and the flower pods are very sappy, stick to everything, then get tracked in and the yellow sap stains whatever it touches. Then there are the suckers that sprout up from the surface roots, which need to be clipped weekly. And the suckers that come up in the grass 100 feet away from the tree------from the roots. Oh, and if you have both male and female trees, all those lovely cottony seedlings.

So, it seems that the tree's days are numbered? One poplar down, two to go. Problem is, the trunks are 4 feet in diameter, they are well over 100 feet tall. So we need a professional to be sure that no electrical wires are clipped, or any other unintended damage.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 7:58PM
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pieheart(6)

I just did some more research and found that what my tree has is called Wetwood or Slime Flux. Not usually fatal to the tree (drat!). I guess we'll tolerate the tree for a while longer. It is a great shade tree otherwise.

Here is a link that might be useful: bacterial wetwood

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:10PM
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casia(z4-Caledon, Ontario)

Poplars are usually short lived trees (in the world of tree age anyway). From the size you describe these trees sound old and may be getting close to the end of their lifespan. They have soft, weak wood prone to breaking and rotting as they age. You might want to get an arborist to inspect them and advise on whether they have internal rot and may be unstable.

I am not in favour of removing trees because they are "inconvenient", but if you really dislike these trees, what is stopping you from having them cut down? Do you have a local tree protection by-law that requires the tree be a hazard before you can remove it?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:14AM
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pieheart(6)

What's stopping me is the cost of removal. The tree I posted about is located between the house and the septic field. Which means that removal has to be done very carefully, they can't just let the tree fall. Cost for this particular tree: $1600. The other two trees will cost $1500 to take down. The cost includes cutting the tree into manageable pieces and chipping the branches.

The trees themselves are just over 30 years old. I'm actually not 100% certain of my identification. The local folklore say these trees were imported from Holland by the original owners of my house. But, when I searched to identify the tree its description matched a balsam poplar, native to the US.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:08AM
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pineresin

"The local folklore say these trees were imported from Holland by the original owners of my house. But, when I searched to identify the tree its description matched a balsam poplar, native to the US"

Not necessarily incompatible, as American Balsam Poplars are fairly commonly planted as ornamental trees in Europe. Is it strongly balsam-scented in spring?

Resin

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:20AM
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pieheart(6)

I don't notice any balsam scent. What made me think it was a balsam poplar was the sticky buds and leaf shape. It also has the cottony seeds, male and female trees, one catkin is purple and one green. There might be a scent, I just never noticed it.

Lovely shade trees, icky in the spring, plus all the suckers off the roots. Driveway is heaved from the roots. I dont' want to think what they've done to the house foundation.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 4:59PM
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pineresin

Can you post a close-up photo of the foliage?

Balsam Poplar scent is very obvious in spring when the buds open; if yours isn't scented, then it may well not be a Balsam Poplar. Other poplars, including Hybrid Black Poplar (P. à canadensis; hybrid P. nigra à P. deltoides) also has somewhat sticky buds, and is the most commonly planted poplar in Europe.

Resin

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:36PM
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casia(z4-Caledon, Ontario)

Piehart, the "side effects" you describe can be almost any poplar species!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:44PM
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pieheart(6)

I took some pictures of the foliage and also of the tree shape. The two trees to the right are the trees in question. The foliage was difficult to photograph because these are tall trees and the lowest branches are pretty high.

view from underneath

another view

close up of leaves

photo showing tree shape (two trees on the right)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:43PM
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salicaceae(z8b FL)

You are growing P. x 'Androscoggin' - a hybrid male poplar originally bred by the Oxford Paper Company in Maine. It is a male clone of a hybrid between P. maximowiczii (Japanese balsam poplar) and P. trichocarpa (Western balsam poplar). This clone is remarkably well adapted to the Mid-atlantic states and grows better than just about any other poplar in some areas, yet dies young in the Midwest. You must have a female around to get seeds. There were similar hybrids bred that were females. If it was brought from Holland, it was just re-introduced to the U.S.

They look quite healthy, but weeping sap is a sign of borers in addition to bacterial flux. If you see saw dust, then borers are likely at work. If so, the trees are near the end. They might live for some time though if no borers. I love the smell of the new foliage in spring on this clone.

The suckers aren't usually too bad with this species, but if the roots are disturbed can pop up here and there.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 9:31PM
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pieheart(6)

The suckers aren't usually too bad with this species, but if the roots are disturbed can pop up here and there.

If these suckers aren't "too bad", I'd hate to see a tree with "bad" suckers! If I don't clip them every week they are like bushes, the suckers are not only around the tree, I find them in the grass ten, twenty feet beyond the dripline. We cut down the last female tree early this spring, before it could set seed. I hope, there are quite a few saplings (trunks six to eight inches in diameter, about 20 feet tall) that haven't flowered yet. We haven't been in a rush to cut them down because we can't replace them right now, but I'm hoping next spring we can devote our time and money to that area of the yard.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 10:06PM
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casia(z4-Caledon, Ontario)

The pics don't look like the balsam poplar I am familiar with (Populus balsamifera) and I am not familiar with clones ... I deal more with naturally occuring species I know you don't like them, but they look beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:19PM
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pieheart(6)

I agree they are beautiful trees, just way too high maintenance for me. I think part of the problem might be that previous owners had covered the exposed roots with landscaping fabric and mulch. I don't think that should have been done. Where possible I have been ripping out the fabric (which was full of holes and weeds anyway) and pulling back the mulch. I like the looks of the roots, gives the area a woodland look. I've been planting impatiens, alyssum and other shady annuals in between the roots and it looks nice, without interfering with the root system.

I am pretty sure that these trees are near the end of their lifespan. They are all very close to the house and if they should go down there would be a lot of damage. It pains me though, the house will no longer be shaded, and it will take years for new trees to grow tall enough to provide any shade to speak of.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:02AM
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