August 25, 2015
Q. A large birch tree in our front yard has what appears a large wound on its main trunk that looks like a long scar.
I would like to do everything possible to save this tree and I was wondering if you have any advice. What can I do, or where should I go to ask for help? I would like to find someone who will not say right away that I need to cut down the tree.

A. In answer to your question about the white birch, what may appear to be a wound on the birch could very well be some of the natural response of the tree to a limb that may have been removed either by choice or by chance.
Choice is where we remove a limb or branch for appearance sake, or because of necessity. If it was a clean cut, the scar that is left would have a dark, nearly black border around the area. There may also be some callus form around the cut, which is nature's way of sealing the edges.

If the wound is by chance or accident, and there is some part of the limb or branch protruding from the trunk, then you need to make a clean cut with a sharp saw to remove it. In a short period of time, a callus will form around the area. As for the general health of the tree, you will not know the state of the tree's health until the leaves come out in the spring. If the leaves appear to be nice and healthy, then you can continue to enjoy one of nature's treasures. Depending on the size, the tree would probably benefit from some fertilization.

John Craw, Master Gardener


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