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Plant Diseases/foam at base of trees


Does this mean that the tree is getting old, or dying?  I have never seen this before.dht

No it does not mean the tree is dying. The foul-smelling and unsightly seepage of sap from the trunk of shade trees is commonly called slime flux or wet wood. It occurs in apple, birch, elm, hemlock, maple, mulberry, oak, poplar and willow.

Slime flux is a bacterial disease. The infected wood is frequently discolored or appears water soaked (wet wood). Gas (carbon dioxide) is produced by fermentation by bacteria. The gas produces pressure in the wood. This pressure forces sap from the trunk through cracks in branch crotch unions, pruning wounds, lawn mower wounds, other injuries and occasionally unwounded bark. This oozing of sap is termed fluxing. The flux is colorless to tan at first but darkens up exposure to the air. As fluxing continues, large areas of the bark become soaked. Many different microorganisms grow in the flux producing a foul or alcoholic smell. Various types of insects are attracted to the slime flux. If the fluxing continues for months, leaves on affected branches may be stunted and chlorotic. Grass may be killed where the flux runs down the trunk onto the grass.

Large mature landscape oaks  have had problems with slime flux on the trunk or large exposed flare roots just above the soil line with no apparent wounds or injuries. Sap may continue to ooze for several weeks or months, but usually it eventually stops with no treatment and no apparent damage to the tree. This slime flux may be triggered by heat, drought and other stress.
There is no curative or preventive measures for slime flux except to maintain trees in a general good state of vigor and minimize wounds and injuries. More damage can be done to the tree in attempting to cure slime flux than the flux will do alone. If there is loose or dead bark in the slime flux area, remove all of the loose bark and allow the area to dry. Do not apply a wound dressing.

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Jim Hyland


30 years experiance in the ID and management of forest diseases and ID of landscape tree diseases.

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