Tree leaking a substance #851200

Asked September 25, 2023, 3:53 PM EDT

I have a tree in front of my house that has a sticky substance coming out of the trunk and it looks like wet coconut crystals on the ground..

Prince George's County Maryland

Expert Response

The tree looks like a cherry, based on bark characteristics, and the oozing sap is called "gummosis." It is a typical tree response to attack by wood-boring insects, infection in the trunk, or general stress. In this case, we suspect borers are the culprit, but it's hard to tell for certain from the gummosis alone.

There is no treatment for this condition; the sap flow is intended to help the tree smother or push-out the borer, but this doesn't work all of the time. Cherries are vulnerable to a number of stress factors and this tree's location very close to what appears to be a driveway or street is likely contributing to chronic stress.

It also appears to be planted too deeply, since we do not see a root flare, which is the junction of major roots with the trunk base, as it should sit at the soil surface (and clear of any mulch). (It's fairly common for a root flare to be buried too deeply by the time a tree is sold, if not corrected upon planting.)

The fact that the tree has suckered at least twice, as evidenced by the older and younger growths emerging from low on the trunk, also suggests it is either under attack by borers or has been repeatedly or severely stressed.

It might be more practical to replace the tree rather than wait to see how it fares, though we can't say with certainty if it will succumb quickly or not. Now and throughout the next several weeks is an excellent time to plant if you do decide to replace it.

Mira Talabac Replied September 25, 2023, 4:37 PM EDT

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