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Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

Posted by estreya Southwest Washington (My Page) on
Sun, Oct 5, 08 at 17:52

Hello, everyone.

I have 3 Cornis Kousa Heartthrob Dogwoods which were planted about three years ago. This year, i noticed that the bark at the base of one of the trees was sort of "flaking off." In no time at all, the bark pretty much all around the base of the tree was completely sloughed.


Can anyone tell me what's going on with this tree? Is it diseased? And moreover, is it doomed? Is there anything i can do to save it (assuming it needs saving)?

I have to say this breaks my heart, because of all three dogwoods, this one is the most beautiful in structure and bloom.

Advise?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

This is my first time posting. I can't believe that several minutes ago "estreya" posted this topic because it's exactly what I'm needing help with. If I should be doing my own separate post, please speak up everyone. However it seems logical to post my query along with this one since it's practically identical. I have 2 dogwoods (not sure of type) that have been doing great for the 4 years since I've lived here. This year, I did some minor pruning - that is the only thing I've done besides some fertilizer pellets over the years. Now I have peeling bark like the previous poster. However, I don't see the pinkish striations underneath where the bark peeled off as in her photos. My apologies - I don't see an option for how to post my photos...thanks for any tips and being understanding for this rookie poster.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

Sarahm, i'm happy to scoot over! There's plenty of room on this thread, so welcome. I'm sorry, though, that you seem to be in the same, or a similar boat with your trees. It's so painful to see a tree in distress, isn't it?

I hope our trees will be able to shack off whatever's plaguing them. I'm sure we'll get some answers here in the coming days.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 5, 08 at 19:17

The part at the front may be some kind of mechanical damage. Note also that Kousa dogwood has flaking bark, the peeling off at the back may just be due to the trees becoming old enough to start doing this. Use tree protectors to keep additional damage from occurring. One method is to slit plastic drain pipes on one side and put them around the trunks, like collars.

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting Fact Sheet PDF


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 5, 08 at 22:32

Another thing -- the tree enters the ground like a telephone pole -- in other words, it's planted too deep.

Beyond that, if the lost bark is all around the tree or almost so, yes, the tree is doomed.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 11:13

Damage may not be deep enough to have removed or destroyed the cambium. Just because the bark is removed, doesn't mean the tree is doomed. The bark is only a protective coating. The pinkish or woody colored areas are areas where inner bark is still present.

Without being there it's hard to say if the tree is planted too deeply. All I can see in the photo is mulch. It might not be a bad idea to gently rake the mulch back a little.

I'd recommend protection, like bboy mentioned. Then I'd set back and see what happens.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 13:01

The chiseled appearance at the top suggests a rodent chewing the bark off to me, in which case you would use wire fencing. I have hacked the bark off an unwanted cherry plum with a hatchet, all the way around the trunk and had it leaf out and grow anyway. Young trees at least have live sapwood.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

Can't be certain, but it looks to be exfoliating bark, which is normal. The strip looks like the exfoliation on our "Milky Way" Kousa. It looked like there was bare wood, but that darkened a couple weeks later. However I do have to say it would seem odd that it would exfoliate this late in the season, but not out of the question either if the tree still has leaves. I know our other trees diameter is still growing, even though fall colors are beginning to show on a few of them. Packing on the sugars for spring growth.

After three years I would not worry about it being planted too deep, especially if it is growing well. And at this point you would probable do more damage digging it up to replant. JMHO.

Arktrees


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

"After three years I would not worry about it being planted too deep, especially if it is growing well."

No. I would worry about it being planted too deep. This can cause major problems down the road.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 13:36

The location on the tree, the the fact that the wound surrounds at least a large part of the diameter of the trunk (if not all the way around), and lack of grass or weeds that might have led to the use of a string trimmer close to the tree also suggests a rodent. Something that I find hard to attribute to rodents is the large loose pieces of bark hanging from their side in the first picture. I guess these could have been pulled from the side, but I've never seen this with rodent damage before.


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Re: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 13:51

I agree with Arktrees; "at this point you would PROBABL(Y) do more damage digging it up to replant."

It may not even be too deeply planted. If it is, it's not likely to be planted much deeper than it should be. Most trees can compensate with new root growth and cope with being planted an inch or two too low. While there is a possibility (by no means a certainty) that there is an issue with how deep the tree is planted, I'd suggest that this is secondary to the fact that something may be gnawing on the trunk.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 14:36

Yes: If a tree is too deep and you dig it up after it has made a new set of roots at a higher level, re-plant it with the replacement roots up out of the ground the tree will then be left with a set of dead replacement roots plus deteriorated original roots. Left alone it could have continued living with the adjustment it had already made.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 20:25

Exfoliating bark? Here, not so. On this tree, the loose bark is a problem. whatever the cause.

As for whether or not the tree is too deep, one can investigate without digging up the tree.

Get in there with hands or trowel and gradually pull back mulch and soil until you find the normal flare at the base of a trunk.

And yes, problems from planting too deep may wait until 3 years, sometimes even more, to become obvious.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

well estreya, looks like no agreed upon answer for you on this one. All I can say is what I would do, and what I've seen. Our kousa had flakes of bark that looked exactly how those flakes looked in your pictures with what appeared to be raw wood underneath. I was worried about it at first, but then realized that it was happening in a number of locations where you would expect the greatest growth in girth, and did some searching on the internet. Can't swear that is happening here, but it sure does look similar, though again, the time of year would seem odd. Again, put some protection on it and your other kousa's, and wait it out. If it creature damage, then there is not much you can do except protect from further damage. In which case it may or may not survive. If it is exfoliating bark (which is my opinion), then they should be fine. You might try using google to search for photo's of the exfoliating bark of kousa's.

Question is, have the tree(s) been growing? Did the caliper increase this year? If so, I would not do a thing other than protect the trunks for my peace of mind. Many people feel that if you do not, or can't provide a perfect environment, then the plants are doomed. I finally figured out that if I leave our plants alone, and just check on them occasionally, that they do much much better. JMHO

Also here is a link to a forum dedicated to dogwoods. You might like to post your pictures there, and look through that forum. I'm sure it would be helpful.

Let us know how it turns out.

Arktrees

Here is a link that might be useful: Dogwood forum


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 22:19

Yes to that as well, it isn't guaranteed that you aren't just seeing normal exfoliation. That was my first impression, actually, reinforced by the exfoliation behind the "wound". Look at the trunks of some other Kousa to see what they are doing.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by estreya Southwest Washington (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 6, 08 at 22:31

Thank you so much for your thoughts, everyone.

Actually, the caliper of the tree DID increase this year, now that i come to think of it, and the foliage and branches have remained healthy and beautiful. Additionally, the pieces of bark would just hang on the tree until they blew or flaked off, almost whole. I looked at one of the pieces and didn't see teeth marks on the edges, which puzzled me. I would assume if a critter were either sharpening its teeth or eating the bark, i'd have seen some signs of nibbling.

In any case, i'll do as you all suggested and just adopt a "wait and see" posture. I've been thinking of buying nice soft tree wraps for my fruit trees this winter, and i may wrap this dogwood as well.

Thank you all again for your words, and happy happy autumn all!


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

Here's info about Cornus kousa with a number of images, including one of exfoliating bark.

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/1plants.htm#cornus

You'll need to scroll down the page a bit to locate C. kousa, then click on the link labeled "trunk, bark."

Looks different to me.

Time will tell.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

jean001, it appears that those are much older stems, and the exfoliation is not as recent.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 7, 08 at 14:40

Rodent pests like rabbits chisel bark off, with their buck teeth.


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RE: Heartsick about Dogwood - Is it doomed? (pics)

I'm not certain, but the statement "Additionally, the pieces of bark would just hang on the tree until they blew or flaked off, almost whole" is consistent with exfoliation. After I looked at the pictures some more, it appears as though some of the exposed area's in picture two are beginning to show new bark thickening bark. As for the time of year for exfoliation, depending upon where he is located in SW Washington. It may simply be a function of a much longer milder growing season. At my location, fall color is coming on, and most dogwoods have changed completely, so I wouldn't expect exfoliation. However the may not be the case in SW Washington depending upon zone, and it may very well be more of the growing season left.

FWIW, exfoliating bark. JMHO


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Dogwood planting question

I want to plant a cluster of flowering dogwood trees. How far apart should i plant them from each other? They are small now. I don't want them to look too croweded when they get older. I am in MO zone 5. and it dosent' look like dogwood trees get to be really tall around here.


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