Can a Dead Looking Tree Come Back to Life?

mistressmaryMay 14, 2007

Half way through last summer all the leaves on my 5 year old apricot tree dried up. It was a very dry, hot summer, and I thought perhaps it didnt get enough water, but that maybe with more attentive watering it could be revived. The leaves did not return last summer, but I was hopeful that in the spring it might come back. Unfortunately, as of today there is still no sign of life, and on closer inspection, I discovered the bark at the base of the trunk is gone, perhaps chewed off by a small critter. I went to the nursery where I bought the tree and they told me if the bark is missing, the tree is definitely dead and there is no hope for revival. I dont want to pull the tree out if there is any chance that it might come back. I have seen on occasion before where trees that looked very dead ended up make a surprise comeback, so I'm wondering if anybody knows anything about this? Do you think there is any chance this tree could show some sign of new life if I let it be, or is it really hopeless at this point? Thanks for any responses!

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Take a sharp knife and give one of the branches closer to the trunk a small nick. If you see green it is still alive. Chances are it is dead. You should have seen some sort of life by now.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 8:36PM
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Thanks for your reply - I'll give that a try tomorrow. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:43PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

It's pretty common for mice to girdle a tree like that, and it's usually a death sentence. If you catch the damage right away you can sometimes save the tree by making bridge grafts, but they don't always work, and it sounds like this tree is past the stage where you could try that anyway.

If there is no sign of buds swelling by now, then your tree is dead. The next time you plant a tree you should wrap the base in chicken wire to prevent the mice (or whatever) from destroying it again. Also, keep mulch away from the trunk - several inches of cleared ground is usually enough to discourage mice from going after the bark.

Is it possible that the tree was girdled last summer, when you noticed the leaves dying and that you only noticed the bark damage now? If that's the case, then there's no hope in heck of saving the tree - it's long dead :-(


    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:45AM
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Thank you for your reply. Looks like I have to accept that my tree is dead. It is indeed very possible that the bark damage was there last summer and I didnt take note of it - as a matter of fact, looking back, I almost think I may have seen it there, but didnt it didnt really register with me as I didnt know the significance of it. I have now learned the hard way that this is a sign of trouble and to regularly check my trees for this. I bought some tree trunk protectors to put around my other trees. Unfortunately I only had the one apricot tree, and it had been doing SO well :( Thanks again for your advice - I really appreciate you taking the time to help.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 12:27PM
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Last year I also noticed something was munching on the trunks of my little (but expensive !) Japanese maples, and also the Magnolia.
So I decided from then on to protect them by spraying the trunks with an animal repellent: Its not a poison, just something with an extremely bitter & persistent taste, which teaches them to go eat somewhere else....

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 6:53PM
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Thanks for another great idea. I'm an animal lover, so using a product that wont harm the critters is essential for me. Where did you buy it, and do you know the name of the product?
Thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 9:38PM
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My apricot tree died this year also.Same thing bark gone around the base of tree,there is a couple of rabbits that live right under it,and I know that the rabbit population is very high this year.Lota of people are having trouble with them. GOOD LUCK. I have three dogs and they chase them away for a few min, but they come right back.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 2:15PM
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