The Q&A Archives: Why

Question: What causes my post oak to
keep sapping a molasses looking stuff fromm the same place?

Answer: Post oak (Quercus stellata), sometimes called iron oak, is a medium-sized tree abundant throughout the Southeastern and South Central United States. The oozing you're seeing might be from a bacterial infection called Slime Flux, commonly known as "wet wood." The bacterium clogs up the conductive tissue in that area of the tree and causes the sap to build up pressure. While it's clogged, the sap ferments. When it finally finds a weak place, it starts oozing out of the tree. The fermented sap has a strong odor that attracts bees and hornets. One spot like this is not a serious problem. You should leave it alone and allow it to ooze on its own. Once the oozing has stopped completely, some arborists recommend removing the wet area that will be left. Trees can live for years with one or two spots like this. However, as the number of oozing spots increases, so does the likelihood that this tree is in serious danger. Since this tree is so important in your landscape, you might want to have a certified arborist examine it for you.

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