The Q&A Archives: Diseased Cherry Tree

Question: This is our first summer at this house and we have one acre with many, many trees. The cherry tree is not a very old tree as it is not very full and is about 12 feet tall. It has begun to ooze a sap-like substance from the trunk in several areas. It appears that it then builds up and causes a "bump" on the spot it's coming from. We had an above average wet spring and a dry summer. Do you have any ideas what it is and is the tree going to make it?

Answer: The oozing sap symptom is a general one, called "gummosis". Trees produce the gummy sap in response to diseases or insect invasion. Your young cherry may be suffering from bacterial canker, since the wet spring weather was good for it, and it may get worse as fall gets damp and cold. The tree also sounds like it's not a very strong tree, and is therefore more succeptible to disease and pests. Bacterial canker also affects the rest of the tree, though, so if you aren't seeing gummy buds, twigs and damaged leaves as well, your tree may be fighting the presence of a borer or another disease organism. Sometimes burls, which are benign growth abnormalities, form on trunks of trees for various reasons, and these can also ooze gum. To determine the cause of the trouble with your tree, consult with a local landscape professional, or see if a Master Gardener can offer you some on-site advice. Master Gardeners can be reached at your agricultrual extension office (ph# 317/462-1113). Best of luck!

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