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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Brown Branches Are Dead Branches?

Q. Do brown branches denote "deadness" on a tree in the spring or can they be brought back somehow?
Dead branch in purple leaf Plum that will not come back because it is truly dead.
Italian cypress with brown branches that appeared dad but are still alive. Nothing will grow from these brown branches anymore even though they are alive.
A. Brown does not always mean a branch is dead. Some tree branches are more brittle than others. For instance, fig, persimmon and pomegranate branches can be quite brittle compared to apple and peach.
            The usual method I use to see if a branch is dead is to bend it. Many branches of trees may look brown and dead but are quite supple when bent. Supple and bending denotes it’s still alive. Other trees have branches which are alive but can snap easily when bent. In cases like this I scrape the bark with my thumbnail or a knife to see if the wood is green under its “brownness”.
            Remember, some plants are slow to leaf out in the spring. Wait for new growth and prune out whatever might be dead. I sometimes get confused as well when winter or early spring pruning.

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