Tree Diseased or Damaged

Asked April 28, 2020, 1:43 PM EDT

Hello. Could you please help us identify what is happening to this tree? (I don't know what kind it is.) There is bark damage and loss at the base of the tree (Pic. 1 and 2) The tree has been leafing out, but there are two large dead branches lower down on the tree, (Pic 3) The tree has had a pretty robust growth of lichen for several years. On the dead branches, the smaller twigs have some sort of dark swelling or gall-type growth. Thanks!

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

We viewed your photos. We think the tree looks like a type of cherry and it looks very mature. The damage to the trunk looks to be old damage but we cannot say what caused it. Wounds can heal on their own and no control is necessary as this can interfere with any healing process. We cannot see the canopy of the tree and what it looks like.

Right photo - We notice lichens on the branches and there are many types. They may grow on mature trees and are not a reason for decline. They are considered a good indicator of air quality. Leave them be and no control is necessary. Here is more information and photos
We also notice the black growths on the branches. This looks like black knot, a fungus. Black knot is a disease of plants in the Prunus genus (plum, cherry, etc.). It can affect edible and ornamental plum trees alike.

Chemical controls for black knot are not very effective once the black galls are present. You can prune out infected stems and branches 4 to 6 inches below the galls and remove the clippings from the landscape. If the disease has progressed too far in the tree, you may have to consider replacement.

After pruning the dead branches and for black knot, you will have to decide if there is any ornamental value left of the tree. Here is our page on When to Decide to Remove a Tree