Nothing makes a tree owner identify more with their tree than walking out into the yard to find a weeping wound in its side. Not to be dramatic, but it’s the closest thing to a knife wound you’re likely to find in your plant.
And, like a knife wound in a person, a leaking tree can be very prone to infections. One of the more common of these is known as slime flux.
Join us, today, as we take a closer look at this bacterial infection, its causes, and how best to treat it.
Slime flux is a bacterial infection that affects trees all across the United States. Elms, cottonwood, poplar, and oak, to be specific, and boxelder, ash, and fruitless mulberry if we’re being more general.
It starts with a wound to the bark. This can be anything from a pruning accident to a naturally-occurring crack. The fissure splits open and sap begins to ooze from the wound.
As time passes, bacteria may infect the sap, causing it to darken at first. This dark sap may stain your wood, but this is really just the beginning. Left untreated, this ooze will begin to foam up and take on an unpleasant smell. At this point, the sap has become toxic to the bark and will begin eating into the tree, as well as attracting flies and maggots.
Because slime flux produces an external effect during its formation, it’s relatively easy to spot. Look for excessively weepy spots of tree sap that have also turned dark and perhaps are staining the tree underneath.
Of course, if you’re looking for signs of more advanced wetwood (another term for slime flux), keep an eye out for whitened and foaming sap. This should also have a bad smell to it.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for wetwood or slime flux. It’s not the kind of sickness you can treat with antibiotics or regular watering.
This doesn’t have to be fatal, though. Like a human being with a bad infection in their arm, sometimes the best treatment for slime flux is targeted amputation. Remove the bark around the infected wound to stop the infection from spreading.
Wipe the infected area down with rubbing alcohol or a combination of one part bleach to nine parts water. Use this same solution to wipe away excess sap. If you can maintain this treatment over a long period of time, there’s every chance of your tree surviving.
When it comes to tree diseases, sometimes the best you can do is to pour your efforts into the tree itself, instead of looking for a cure. Slime flux is one of those diseases. With no discernable cure to speak of, the best reaction to this infection is to immediately clean the point of infection and cut off the bark.
Interested in learning more about tree diseases? Maybe you’re looking into simple tree removal services. Whatever the case, check out some of our excellent blog posts, or get in touch, today, and take back your yard!