Industry News: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: Why is the bark on a Desert willow turning a very dark brown?

Friday, July 29, 2016  

Q: I have a two-year-old desert willow planted in my Bermuda grass backyard in San Angelo, Texas. I have noticed lately that the bark on a few of the smaller limbs is turning a very dark brown. All the leaves are a healthy green throughout the tree (or more like a bush at this point), and it blooms like crazy. I learned online that the tree likes well-drained soil and not a lot of water. This surprised me since it was an arborist who recommended this tree for the yard and in fact planted it. The sprinklers water the lawn twice a week for 15 minutes each time.

Do you believe it is receiving too much water, causing the bark on some limbs? Will it eventually kill the tree? Any suggestions? Thank you for your help.

A: It is normal for the new growth of desert willow to be green and turn brownish as it matures. Most diseases with this plant that are associated with cool wet conditions manifest themselves as leaf spots or twig dieback. The amount of moisture that you say this plant is receiving does not sound excessive, but it does require good drainage. Check the moisture level adjacent to the plant with your finger shortly before your next irrigation cycle. If it is still wet, then moisture reduction may be necessary.

Responder: Rick Zampino, RCA #416, Fairview, TX