Tree spots and dam­aged shrubs

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Ellen Nibali

Sev­eral of my trees have these black spots on the trunk. Is it a prob­lem?

This ap­pears to be hy­poxy­lon canker, a fun­gal dis­ease. It is of­ten present in trees but doesn’t be­come a prob­lem un­til a tree is se­verely stressed, pri­mar­ily by drought.

The tree canopy (top) may show dieback first (though many things can cause this symp­tom.) The outer bark sloughs off where the fun­gus is un­der­neath. At first the fun­gus ap­pears brown, then gray or sil­ver, even­tu­ally black. There is no cure, though an in­fected branch can be pruned off and moved off-site. Pre­vent­ing stress is key to pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion.

Keep your trees healthy by:

■ Wa­ter­ing 1” a week dur­ing se­ri­ous drought;

■ Pro­tect­ing trees from con­struc­tion, soil com­paction over roots, and root dam­age;

■ Mulching around the tree 2 to 3 inches deep. DO NOT pile mulch against the trunk;

■ Avoid­ing ap­pli­ca­tion of weed killers on trunks or un­der trees — es­pe­cially her­bi­cides which travel down in the soil to kill roots.

A car skid­ded on ice and ended up in my front yard, but not be­fore it rolled over my bushes. Can my bushes be sal­vaged if I clear away the bro­ken parts? I’m not sure what kind of shrub it is — ev­er­green leaves (not nee­dles) and bright yel­low in­side where the bark is bro­ken. Will they be able to re­cover, even though this hap­pened in the winter?

Good news and bad news. The good news is that for most shrubs you can prune out the dam­aged ar­eas, as low as 6 inches off the ground. This will stim­u­late new growth in the spring. How­ever, it may take years to fill in.

The bad news is that your shrub de­scrip­tion sounds like bar­berry, an in­va­sive shrub now known to en­cour­age deer ticks and higher rates of ones in­fected with Lyme dis­ease. So this as an op­por­tu­nity to plant new kinds of shrubs. Na­tives with flow­ers and/or berries for wildlife are best. More good news.

Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion’s Home and Gar­den In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter of­fers free gar­den­ing and pest in­for­ma­tion at ex­ten­sion.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Mary­land’s Gar­den­ing Ex­perts” to send ques­tions and photos.

HAND­OUT

Hy­poxy­lon canker is a fun­gal dis­ease in trees that can be­come a prob­lem in droughts.

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