Tree bark damage question

Asked December 28, 2017, 4:31 PM EST

Hello. My neighbor has a large tree that seems to be losing its bark. There are many bark strips on the ground at the base of the tree. It appears as if they are coming off from the base all the way up the main trunk and out along some branches. Since it's being peeled from the outside, it looks more like damage from squirrels or woodpeckers. We haven't been able to see anything in action, though. There don't seem to be holes drilled or pecked into the wood itself. The damage is limited to bark pieces being peeled away. She believes that the tree is a mulberry but I have never seen one that big. I wasn't able to get a photo of the leaf at this time of year, of course, but I do have a picture of the tree from this summer that was taken at a distance. I''ll send that because it's the best I have. I'll also include one of the tree trunk that shows lighter sections where bark has been peeled away and a photo of the bark strips on the ground. Can you tell what might be causing this, if it's something to worry about and, if so, what might be done about it? I'll be grateful for any info you have. Thanks for working on this.

Howard County Maryland invasive species emerald ash borer ash trees trees invasive insect ash tree bark falling off woodpeckers peeling bark

3 Responses

Judging from the bark pattern, this may be an ash tree. If so, it's likely that it is infected with emerald ash borer, on which the woodpeckers are feeding. The chunks of bark looks like just such feeding. A close look at the middle photo seems to show a borer hole in the trunk where the bark is removed.

Emerald ash borer is a non-native invasive insect which has killed many millions of ash trees in the U.S. They are lethal to ashes unless pesticides are applied to the tree with no end in sight. Unless this is an extremely valuable ash tree, we recommend removal and replanting with another native species of tree.

Here is much more information about EAB:

Because dead ash trees become very brittle and hazardous as soon as they die, and their removal can become more expensive, you may want to remove it before it dies or immediately thereafter.


Thanks very much for your help. This is bad news, although not unexpected. I didn't think it was a mulberry! The power company removed an ash tree from our neighborhood recently because it was at risk of damaging the electric lines. Unfortunately for my neighbor, this tree isn't posing that sort of a problem. It's really big and will be expensive to remove at any time! Thanks again for taking the time to look into this. I'll forward the information along.