The Q&A Archives: Dying Branches On Willow

Question: I love your magazine and I have been a subsriber for many years. It is very informative! But now I need your help. I have a 6 year-old weeping willow tree which is planted by our pond. Quite a few branches are dying. At the base of the branches the bark is peeling back and rotted. There's alot of damage to the base of the trunk also. The bark is peeling away excessively but it seems to be trying to heal itself. It has lots of good, new growth this sring but the tree looks sparse because of this problem. My landscaper said it's cankers. Is this tree slowly dying? Is there a solution to cankers? Please help! If this tree would die, is it a good idea to plant a new one in the same spot?

Answer: Unfortunately, willows (Salix) are potentially subject to a number of problems including fungal infections and cankers and often are not as long lived as we might like. Cankers can certainly affect these trees and the affected parts should be pruned away and any clippings destroyed. You can protect the tree somewhat by making sure it is adequately fertilized. If the canker affects the trunk and girdles it, however, the tree will die. Since this is a fungal infection it would be better to plant something else in that location. You might want to check with your county extension (825-1721) for a more definite diagnosis and suggested remedies, if any, based on a firm identification of the problem. I'm sorry about your tree.

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