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Friday, June 15, 2012

Mesquite Tree Can Bleed Profusely When Cut

Mesquite tree with sap running down
from a pruning cut
Q. This is about mesquite trees of which I have two in my front yard. Last fall I had both trees trimmed quite drastically by a recommended tree service. They are coming back very nicely except one limb is dripping what I thought was oil; a dark stain looking like oil or tar. 
            At first, I thought the gardeners had dripped oil over the rocks and over my lantern with their equipment.  Then I looked up!  I don’t know what to do about this; I clean up the area as best I can and within a week, it looks like it had never been cleaned. Is this something I should worry about, or should I just keep on cleaning?  Only one limb on one tree is doing this.


A. Mesquite trees can bleed quite profusely when they have been cut. This is nothing to worry about and it should stop by now.

            Out of curiosity you might just take your finger to this sap and smell it. If it has a strong yeasty smell and it attracts flies it's possible it could be a relatively minor disease problem called Wetwood or slime flux. I just mention this because it is more of a curiosity than anything else.

            There is really not much you can do about this disease and it should not have any long-lasting effects on the health of the plant. This is not true of this disease and a couple of others but mesquite it should be no problem. It is going to be unsightly.

            If the liquid persists, it is possible to drill a hole at the bottom of where it is leaking and    tap in a 2 or 3 inch tube into the hole so that the liquid runs down and out the tube, not down the side of the tree. Make sure all is sterile when puncturing or putting a hole or cut into plants.

7 comments:

  1. I have a mesquite over a brick area and it drips sap on them. What can I do to protect the brick? Is there a chemical that can be applied to the brick to clean it of sap drippings?

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  2. Please help, my huge old mesquite tree had some black sap leaking and a local tree expert put tar on the wound to close it off. Now my tree 3 years later, is dying I think. Red bark, powdery, leaves on some branches dying. What can I do?

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    1. The black tar you mention is no longer recommended for sealing off tree wounds. However, I can understand why someone in the business might do it because they want to make you feel better about your tree. It's kind of like a placebo. The black Siegler doesn't hurt anything. The research that has been done says it's mostly cosmetic. Check your watering and soil drainage. If the soil is in training and there is too much water applied it's possible the roots are suffocating. If roots are suffocating you might see large branches begin to die until you can correct the drainage problem. One way to correct it is called vertical mulching. This augurs holes in the soil vertically that are several inches in diameter and down to a depth of about two or 3 feet. This helps water to drain from the roots and allows air to get down there as well.

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  3. I live in an area that gets a super rainy season, mesquite trees are native here and this tree is probably 100 years or more old. The bark is coming off, it looks like infestation of pests, leaves turning yellow. Do you have any other ideas?

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    1. Nothing specific. when we see sap coming out it is usually either some sort of stress or poossibly insect.There is a mesquite borer in Arizona and Texas but I have not seen it in Nevada. You should see fairly large holes, exit holes either in dead parts of the tree limbs or trunk or below some sap that is oozing. There is one insecticide you can apply to the soil around the tree which will be taken up by plant roots and kill this insect and give several months of protection. You should be able to find it in a nursery or garden center. We carry it at Viragrow in concentrated form for professionals.

      Otherwise there are a couple of limb and trunk diseases but you should see mushrooms (bracket fungi) on the sides of dead or dying limbs or the trunk. Usually sap is a sign of stress.If the roots are being flooded and they can't "breathe" you might see sap. In cases like this you might try a technique called vertical mulching which augers large holes vertically in the soil within a few feet of the tree and provides some drainage of soil water. This will alleviate the flooded soil problem and allow the rotos to "breathe". A certified arborist should be able to do that for you.

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  4. Thank you so much. I believe I have termites, I see them and the powder they are leaving. Do you have any ideas?

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    Replies
    1. If you have further concerns why dont you contact me privately at Xtremehorticulture@gmail.com

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