My photinia is sudsing

Asked March 13, 2018, 11:08 PM EDT

I noticed that my photinia was producing suds today. On one limb to the right, in the picture, you can see bubbles midway up and suds on down. ON the left there is a white blotch of bubbles at the base - which did appear to have dripped down from up that limb when I got closer. I saw bubble remnants above the white blotch. What in the world is going on? I figured you would know what this is about. Thank you!

Yamhill County Oregon

1 Response

Hello, a couple of possibilities. Rain can sometimes cause a froth to form at the base of trees because the falling water on the trunk mixes acid and salt deposits and forms soap that accumulates at the base of the tree and bubbles because of the turbulence of the water.

Another possibility is bacterial wetwood and slime flux, which is caused by bacterial infection. Below are some great resources on it. It is not usually fatal to the tree, but there is not much that can be done about it. Some recommend pruning of the bark to remove the infection if it is small enough. Alcohol flux is also possible but usually occurs in summer.

Usually bacterial infections like a little more warmth and are more prevalent later in the spring so I'm leaning toward the soap theory. If you go out and smell the trunk where the foam was and you don't detect any odors of fermentation that would suggest the soap.