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Plant Diseases/Cottonwood tree


Hi. I've been smelling this smell every time I mow the lawn. Smells like vomit. I realized its my tree. I noticed it on another tree also. There's areas on the trees that are open with this awful discharge. Bugs are also around these areas. Are my trees done? They are 28 or so years old.great shade trees.:'(

Hi Kathy:

The situation that you describe sounds much like a condition called slime flux or sometimes called bacterial wetwood. Take a look at some pictures of this on your computer to see if this looks like your tree.  Certain bacteria get inside the trees' vascular system by wounds or opening in the bark and cause an infection.  These bacterial along with sap oozes out opening in the bark resulting from a pressure buildup inside the tree.  It smells like fermented liquid and does attract wasps and other insects.  It can leave a stain down the bark as it runs down the side of the tree. There is no cure, only prevention by avoiding wounds or other cracks in the bark. A tree can survive for many years with this disease if it is watered and taken care of to promote vigorous health.  There are several trees that are more prone to this situation than others such as elm, willow and cottonwood.  There are lots of information bulletins on the internet from various universities on this subject.


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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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