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Plant Diseases/Rotting bark on mulberry tree


I have been concerned about our big Mulberry tree. For the last 5 years it has been losing its bark towards the bottom of the tree. The tree is about 15  or 20 feet high and recently started blooming, the leaves look normal and very green. The trunk has been chipping away and you can see the inside of the tree about 9 to 12 inches high on the south side of the tree. I can also see some of the inside of the tree chipping away on that side. I was wondering what disease the tree has and if it can be saved. I really love the shade it provides for our front yard, but am concerned a strong wind might knock it down. What are your thoughts?


From your description, I do indeed suspect a wood rotting decay disease.  There are many fungal and bacterial organisms that can cause these types of diseases.  Unfortunately, the decay often is a slow, yet progressive situation for which is there is no cure.  Trees can persist for several years with good fertilization and water schedules to lessen stresses. The tree is weakened structurally from the decay process and may fail during a wind storm or winter precipitation accumulation on the branches.  The decay organisms often setup housekeeping in the tree after they gain entry- usually through a wound in the bark.  Thus by preventing wounding is the best way to deal with decay.  Just good prevention is best.

For your particular tree, as I mentioned- good fertilization and watering schedules are recommended.  This will help maintain the tree.  Keep a close eye on the tree each spring to see how full the canopy leafs out.  Eventually it will start to thin out some in the top.  If the tree starts to show a lot of empty branches, it may be time to consider removal, especially if it may pose a danger to person or property.


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Dr Stephen Vann


Plant Diseases and Disorders of Lawn Grasses, Trees, Vegetables,and Ornamentals


Plant Diseases Identification and Management

B.S. Botany --- Miss. State Univ. M.S. Plant Pathology --- Miss. State Univ. Ph.D. Plant Pathology --- Texas A & M Univ.

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