Sunday, January 17, 2016

Let's Take A Closer Look: Tree Canker and Oozing Sap Discovered by Reed Cullinan, Age 5

A few weeks ago, neighbor and Green Hour participant, Reed Cullinan, age five, asked me if I would look at a tree by our houses. He said it had  something sticky on it and wanted to know what it was. We walked together to Prospect Avenue to the small garden area in front of the Wade's house. The tree, indeed, had a reddish, oozing, sticky substance coming out of a wound in its trunk. A fungus? I was not sure what it was. I told Reed I would look into and let him know. It was a great find! He also told me that he had taken some of the sticky stuff off the tree back to his house and left it outside. It got soft and squishy.
I found out that a tree with a wound is susceptible to fungus and bateria. The wound could be from a lawn mower, weed wacker, or an environmental condition like frost or fire. The air borne fungus gets into the tree through the damaged bark(wound). A small, bumpy fruiting body that's called a pycnidia forms in the wound and oozes amber/reddish jelly textured sap. This is what Reed discovered. Since our weather had been warm, Reed was able to pull some off the tree. Now that it's colder it has stiffened and looks like small dripping icicles. A woodpecker has been making a hole in the wound too. This is because insects are attracted to the sap and woodpeckers are looking for insects.
Perhaps the tree can be pruned in spring which is the only cure for this disease. So there we have it. Thanks so much for noticing this and pointing it out to me, Reed!

Curled-back Bark

Oozing Sap

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