Q: My cut leaf birch tree splits into two main branches. One side has leaves that all died last month after 100-mile per hour winds during a thunderstorm. Is this from the bending of the tree during the storm or do you think this is the result of a disease?
A: Cut leaf birches are very flexible in windstorms, but it approached the upper limit of tolerance with winds reaching 100 miles per hour! There would have to be a break in the limb in order for that to be the cause of death. This could be the result of bronze birch borer feeding activity.
The adult lays eggs just beneath the bark in the spring and the larvae hatch and begin feeding on the cambial tissue. The borers eventually girdle the branch and kill it.
This commonly happens starting with smaller branches at or near the top of the tree and gradually works down to larger stems until the tree is so misshapen and poor looking that it loses any attractiveness in the landscape. I would like to suggest that you contact an International Society of Arboretum certified arborist in your region to inspect the tree. Go to www.treesaregood.com/findtreeservices/FindTreeCareService.aspx to find an arborist. Be sure to check his or her credentials before authorizing any major work on the tree. I share your love for this species! I have one right in front of our house. I am guilty of giving the tree a hug every now and then!
Q: I planted a Redmond linden on my boulevard about three years ago. The tree looks good and the leaves are big and green. However, I noticed this spring that the branches coming out of the trunk are nice and erect, but the further out you go, the branches start to droop. It's been watered well and I did put one fertilizer stick at the drip line this spring. Is this normal or is the tree in trouble?
A: Some of this may be perfectly normal, so I don't believe you have any reason to be concerned from what you told me.
Q: I planted a willow in a corner of my yard near a runoff ditch. Everything was fine until this year, when we got inundated with rain and there was about 4 to 6 inches of rain standing around the tree all spring. Algae also grew around that part of the yard.
I noticed at the base of the willow that all the outer bark has split and separated from the tree, so the inner part of the tree is wide open. Do I need to remove the willow or is there anything that can be done to save it?
A: That was some rain event and subsequent flooding period!
You didn't state whether or not the tree was otherwise healthy and in full leaf. If it is, I don't think you have anything to worry about. To aid the trunk in healing, cut the loose bark back to where it is attached.
Prior to winter's arrival, wrap the trunk in Kraft paper that is available at local garden centers or supply stores. Remove it next spring as the tree starts to leaf out. These are pretty tough trees, especially when they are young.
To contact Ron Smith for answers to your questions, write to Ron Smith, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Dept. 7670, Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or e-mail email@example.com.