Damage to cherry tree trunk

Asked August 2, 2020, 11:15 AM EDT

Hi, Today we noticed what looked like a slash in our cherry tree trunk filled with something that looked like damp sand. When we pushed the truck to either side of the slash it gave slightly. We removed some of the sandy looking substance which was gooey and the wood underneath seemed solid. We had never noticed any damage to the trunk before, but we returned from a beach trip last week so could have developed in our absence. I should also mention that this tree was a volunteer and I am referring to it as a cherry tree based on identification by a landscaper who was doing other work on our yard a few years ago. Attaching photos of leaves and berries in the hope that if I have misidentified the tree you can correct me.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

This looks like a type of cherry based on the photos but we cannot say what species. Cherry trees can exude sap/gum due to any type of stress such as pruning cuts, wounds, cankers, or possible insect pests such as the peach tree borer. If you see some 'sawdust'-like material (frass) on the ground below the holes or in the sap exuding from the holes, it could be an indicator of borers. Looks like possible frass. There are no chemical controls for the above.

In general cherry trees are not long lived trees. At this point all you can do is prune dead wood and prune damaged areas back to healthy tissue. If this is in the main trunk this is not possible.

The best recommendation is to keep the tree watered during dry periods. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the trunk. If the canopy looks good all you can do is enjoy the tree and it sounds like you may have to consider removal in the future.
Here is more on ornamental fruit trees https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/ornamental-fruit-trees-preventing-diagnosing-and-managing-problems