Industry News: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: Crepe myrtle has a split–Should a trunk be removed??

Wednesday, March 30, 2016  

Q: I accidentally pulled on my crepe myrtle during pruning and split it! It has three trunks, and the split is down the middle of one of the main Ys. The split itself goes about 4 inches into the Y. Neither side branch is falling down or anything, there is just a split. I put electrical tape around it for now until I could get some advice. Do I need to cut that entire trunk down to the ground now? I really hope not, because I like the look of the three trunks and I think two trunks will look pretty strange. Thank you! (I live in Western North Carolina)

A: Crepe myrtle has very brittle wood and cracks easily under tension. Split trunks can be very serious on these trees because splits can cause the wood to dry out and become even more brittle and/or infected with decay organisms. While the electrical tape might seem like a good idea, it will do more harm than good and should be removed immediately. The tree has natural internal and external processes that will help it recover from the crack, but there are many factors involved in how well these processes are able to develop. These factors will also determine whether the prognosis of your tree will be good or not. If you need a detailed understanding of how these processes/factors interact or whether your particular tree will recover, you really need to have a local expert examine the tree and develop recommendations based on his or her findings. Find a Consulting Arborist near you.

Responder: Marty Shaw, RCA #470, Franklin, TN