Gauty Oak Galls

1549548-WEB Gouty oak gall

Very common on red oaks. Caused by wasps or flies. Old galls look woody; new galls  are lighter in color and spongy. This gall is common to red oak species. The tree makes the gall in reaction to insect larvae living in its tissue. While galls generally do not cause a terminal damage, a heavy infestation can damage young trees that are just trying to get established. Regardless of tree size, galls can decrease the vigor of the tree. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that can be done. The best you can do is to keep the tree as healthy as possible with plenty of water and maybe a little slow release fertilizer at the right time of year and the correct quantity.

(photo by Jim Baker, North Carolina State University,

Just Say No To Topping

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Topped Osage orange under utility line (Starkville)

Tree topping is when the top of the tree is shaved off with no consideration for how the tree’s future growth will be impacted. Utility companies often top trees to make room for lines; however, the tree should not have been planted in that location in the first place. The home owner is responsible for removing the tree and replanting with a tree that fits the space. In other cases, home owners often feel that their trees have become too large for their property, so they aim to make them smaller. We see this a lot with crape myrtle (sometimes called crape murder in the South). Topping actually increases the potential that the tree will become a hazard in the future. Because the pruning cuts are not in the right places (i.e., not at the branch collar where the tree naturally repairs and heals itself), weak limbs are develop in response. A strong storm can cause these weak structured branches to break. A good arborist will never suggest or recommend to top
a tree.