Sap or Jelly Fungi?

Asked November 8, 2015, 7:13 PM EST

This is on the trunk of my weeping cherry tree. Is it sap or fungi? If it's fungi do I need to worry and what should I do?

Ok, now that I've read up on sap, I'm realizing it's usually indicative of some type of problem. How do I diagnose and treat?

Montgomery County Maryland sap on trunk trees cherry tree

3 Responses

Cherry trees in general are not long lived trees. The presence of gum or sap on cherry trees can be a natural response to defend wounds on the tree caused by bark cracks, insect feeding, mower injury, or disease. This is the tree's natural response to a source of stress. Your tree looks like it is planted too deeply and is also a form of stress. A properly planted tree flares at the base of the trunk where it joins the root system. We do not see this. You may be able to remove some excess mulch piled up around the trunk. See our publication on Abiotic Plant Problems
Also, Boring insects, which are the larval stage of moths, are common on cherries, as are canker diseases. There is unfortunately not much to be done for them. No chemical control is recommended. See our publication on ornamental fruit trees
At this point, prune out any dead branches, rake fallen leaves to prevent any overwintering fungal spores, and water the tree during dry periods to maintain vigor. Make sure mulch is no thicker than two inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. Monitor the tree for additional symptoms.

Thank you so much for the quick response. Today I must have cleared about 4" of dirt & mulch (mostly dirt) away from the base of the tree. I don't think it was planted that way, but I think my amateur "landscapers" must have been tossing the extra dirt -- when they edge the bed -- onto the mound. Over the years it's really built up. While I was out there I noticed some bark damage that I hadn't paid attention to b/c I was so focused on the sap. I've attached a photo, does that give you any more info as to any other problems that may be present. The damage is about 12 - 15" from the ground and 8-10" below the sap. Also, is the sap "protective" at this point or can I just gently scrape it off the trunk? I didn't see any info either way in the articles you attached for me. Thank you again.
This is an an amazing resource!!

We viewed your additional photo of the trunk. The photo was not very clear and we cannot say for sure what caused the bark to crack. Reasons are most likely the same as above response. The bark looks sunken, dark, with some dead tissue. At this point, all you can do is keep the tree well watered during dry periods next season and make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. Monitor the growth of the tree. It will most likely limp along and in the future consider replacement with another tree species.
Removing the sap will not help or hurt anything. If you want to remove, wait until it is really cold and/or frozen and the sap will break off or you can gently scrape off now. mh