We bought and planted a tree that was called an "American Oak" about 3
years ago. It's currently about 3 - 4 cm (2 - 3 inches) in diameter.
A few days ago, I discovered a hole in the trunk, about 170 cm's from
the ground (under 6 ft). The hole itself is about 1.5 cm's in diameter
(just under an inch). A wire detected that it went about 15 cm up and 4
cms down (about a foot up and a few inches down).
After probing with the wire, I looked away for an instant, and then had
the distinct impression that I saw something out of the corner of my
eye pop its head out of the hole for a fraction of a second. I wasn't
able to get it again. It looked like a huge worm or something. Or maybe
it didn't happen. But something made that hole.
The hole occupies about 20% of the diameter of the trunk.
My question: will the tree grow in respect to the size of the hole, so
that the hole becomes insignicant, or will the hole "grow" with the tree?
Should I cut it down now instead of pealing it off my house later?
Should I fill the hole with anything?
Any thoughts will be appreciated.
I would be concerned that a hole that size would substantially weaken
the trunk. Even as a small tree, it might easily break in the next wind
storm. Thus, I would remove and replace it.
First, however, I would consult a local aborist or horticulturist to
identify what pest made the hole. Then, you might be able to either
plant something that does not attract such a pest or else be able to
block it from damaging anything else.
The "World Book of Trees" and Sunset's "Western Garden Book" list many
oaks (genus Quercus) with common names indicating European and Asian
nations as well as states within the U.S. However, neither work lists
an "American oak". Was it possibly an "Armenian oak" (Q. pontica)?
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
On Mon, 11 Jun 2007 19:55:08 -0700, David E. Ross wrote:
Yes, I guess you're right... unfortunately. I was hoping I could ignore
it and it would go away. ;)
I actually hadn't intended to buy anything exotic ... we have oaks here
in southern Germany ... but maybe it really was from a different clima.
Your point makes me think that the garden shop did me a disservice.
Well, it was clearly presented as an American oak, but that could have
just been sloppy naming.
Sounds like a tree borer. You probably did see it. I would try
standing guard duty for a while and perchance it will emerge again and
you can stab it with a barbed stick and yank it out. Also being such
a young tree is in your favor becaue it can't be very deep as it could
in a much larger tree, so there is probably just the one rather than a
colony. If I had no luck in grasping the borer I would attempt to
flush it out with a strong jet of water from a garden hose. Once it's
out there is no reason you couldn't pack the hole completely, cement
will work. The tree will heal and within 2-3 years you shouldn't even
be able to find the remnants of that hole. But more importantly keep
watch that more borers don't attack that tree or other trees as they
are likely in your soil. You probably should adhere to a regimen of
the proper insecticide applications.
systemic works really well in trees that arent producing edible food.
on my peach trees will occasionally get a borer, use the wire to spear
it. but normally I have window screen wrapped around so they cant get
close enough to lay and egg and get into the tree.
Hugh Johnson's "The International Book of Trees" (which I previously
mis-cited as the "World Book of Trees") gives "White Oak" as the common
name for Q. alba, without "American". It's range is from south-east
Canada to eastern U.S. Johnson also says that it is not successful in
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
On Thu, 21 Jun 2007 19:52:20 -0700, David E. Ross wrote:
I showed that to my wife (particularly the last line), and she said she
thought she remembered that it was said that it was an "American Red Oak".
:) Who knows - it was surely just marketing giberish anyway ... it turns
nicely red in the fall - but I guess all oaks do...
Lesson learned - make sure you keep your gardening receipts....
On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 07:14:07 -0700, Sheldon wrote:
Cement? I was thinking along the lines of tar. I have an unused bag of
cement, and I've seen trees with cement plugs, now that you mention it...
But it seems extreme to me ... for example, cement gets warm when it
hardens. That won't be a problem? Would cement be less of a chemical
toxen to the tree than tar, for example?
Were it an old hollow tree or relatively large cavity then cement will
cause problems. But yours is a very young tree, which in a few years
will grow enough that it reduces that borer hole to mere
insignificance. As to heat, trees easily tolerate far higher
temperatures over much longer periods simply by growing in the sun.
And that is why filling a void with tar is not a good idea, it's fine
to "cauterize" a small surface wound in order to prevent entrance by
insects and water. Whenever the sun strikes that tree the tar will
reliquify to some degree and leach throughout the tree even into the
living portions especially downwards (gravity) to the root area and
that may interfere with sap flow... in a small tree that can have the
same effect as a blood clot in your leg, death. Patching cement
doesn't generate much heat, you can run a small test batch and check
the temperature with an insta-read thermometer... I seriously doubt it
will reach more than 90F during the curing, and only for a very short
duration, not nearly as hot as the surface of a tree gets from the
sun, and thats all day every every sunny summer day.
And if you're still tentative go to a plant nursery and ask if they
can recommend an arborist's cement, calking compound or some such.
Plumbers putty would work too, or spackle patching compound (probably
easier to work with than cement, a small $2 can from The Depot will
do, all you want to do is fill the void until the tree heals itself.
Let us know if you get that borer out.
On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 10:28:56 -0700, Sheldon wrote:
No, I'll do the cement, I have it on hand.
But what do you mean, get the borer out? I was planning to just mash
up and down with a heavy wire and then follow up with some insecticide -
do you think it wise to actually have his carcass in hand (habeas corpus,
so to speak)?
dont fill with anything. it prevents proper overgrowth. tape over the
hole to prevent rain from getting in, wrap the tree with some
aluminum screening to prevent anything else from getting in there.
On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 17:51:02 +0200, "Charles T. Smith"
On Jun 13, 10:15?am, email@example.com wrote:
Unfilled that hole will definitely grow larger, no ifs, ands, or buts
about it. Cambrium cannot grow over air or under tape, the hole must
be properly filled to the correct level or that tree will develop
internal dry rot and being so small a tree it will then probably die.
For such a small tree that's a very serious wound, a bandaid can only
hurt it by preventing air circulation and moisture will accumulate by
condensation. If it's not going to be filled it should just be left
alone and hope for the best. Window screen is no real protection from
small egg laying insects... and often the smallest adult insects
produce the most voracious and destructive larvae. Fill the hole...
and rather than control insect infestation with poisonous chemicals
attract birds, by attacting birds there is far less opportunity for
insect infestation to begin with... if not for insect consuming birds
forests would become wastelands. A few bird houses set about cost
less than insecticides and are far easier to maintain. And don't ever
feed birds during warm seasons, they find plenty to eat without your
training them to not eat their regular normal diet.
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