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Can I save my Rowan tree? - holes and spots problem

Hello all New member here with a problem..

I've noticed a hole in the trunk of our Rowan tree.  It looks like a young tree, the hole is not too deep but is quite sizeable for the trunk.  I have poked around and some fine soil and a few black ants came out which seem to run up and down the tree.   I've noticed the Rowans do tend to have peeling bark etc but I haven't seen one with holes.  Should I leave it and hope it heals or can it be patched?

To top it off I noticed a few silvery/ white spots on the leaves which may or may not be related.  Any ideas of cause & treatment?

I am worried that the tree may be beyond saving & it is the only thing of interest in our garden at the moment!

Advice greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance, Della  :-)  



  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,053
    That doesn't look good. How big is the hole in relation to the whole tree? I would be inclined to take it down. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Hello, Here is the whole tree. 
    The hole is about 2/3 way up (before the first branch on the left).  As you can see from previous pic the hole diameter is quite big in relation to the trunk, I would say it is 5x6cm and about 1cm deep. 
    I wondered if taking off some of the top growth might take the load off it a bit but I'm sure I've read they don't like to be pruned.
    However, if the leaves are diseased too as a separate issue then there may be no point.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,687
    edited October 2018
    The leaves are some type of bacterial/fungal leaf spot, a sign your tree is weak and not in optimum growing conditions. Not sure how long this tree has been in that spot but the base area should have been cleared of grass and mulched to keep growing conditions ideal, especially when young. Water stress can also cause your tree to crack and look limp.

    The hole on the trunk doesn't look good, but I'm more concerned with the crack much lower down the trunk, I don't think you can do much with that. You simply have to wait. Any form of canker is not good but also unpredictable depending on age of tree. But since it is quite low down on the main trunk, the tree is unlikely to last long. The droopy appearance of your tree is not a good sign. It's either suffering from that damage on the trunk and dying from within, or possibly suffering from the early stages of Fireblight. 

    Since it is in this condition, it is better to take a section of a branch to see what is happening. If they snap off very easily and have a reddish tone inside, it could be suffering from Fireblight. 
  • nultyphilip224nultyphilip224 Ireland,..The Midlands.Posts: 923
    Probably looks worse than it is,..the first job to do and before the frosts arrive is to plug that hole and check the smaller one below it,..see that its not an extension of the top opening, can get a canister of foam,.. 'Fix All',..which on application is soft and can be made smooth then it  solidifies and will give support to that weak spot,..this 'Fix All', can get from most Hardware Stores will not harm the tree,..however its colour is yellowish and can be painted over to match the colour of the tree,..i applied this foam to my 'Spanish Bayonet',..almost two years ago it worked on a hole one could put a fist into.

    My tree below where you can see the yellow foam was applied to fill the hole.

    As for the blemishes on the leaves,..they may not be related,..try get a spray to help keep the leaves healthy,..'Neem Oil works wonders',..a tablespoon of Neem Oil and one of liquid soap i find works magic :)

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 13,025
    Most experts would not recommend plugging hoes in trees. It is thought that this just seals any disease in.
    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,672
    On the "whole tree" pic, it looks like the bark might be damaged close to ground level but it's hard to see.  Has the area been strimmed or mowed at some time? If the bark has been scraped or cut through near the base, that would explain the general wilted/droopy look and isn't a good sign. If I'm wrong and it's just mucky/dark coloured then you could give the tree its best chance by clearing and mulching the area, making sure the soil is damp but not soggy, then wait and see.  It should be losing its leaves for the winter soon so you could wait and see how it does in the spring when the new leaves come in, then decide whether it's worth keeping.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,152
    I think there's too many indications of rot there for it to recover ... there's holes from the ground upwards.   I'd dig it out now, replenish the soil with some organic matter and plant something nice there that'll make you happy in the spring.

    Are those Muscari leaves around it or is it grass?  If it's Muscari I'd plant a multi-stemmed Amelanchier there ... it'll look a picture with it's blossom in the spring with the blue flowers below it ... I've got scilla and chionodoxa around mine for the spring, and pink Cyclamen hederafolium blooming at its feet now ... wonderful, especially with it's amazing autumn colour too
    Whoops!  it's on it's side and you can't see the cyclamen from there, they're behind the stripy Gardeners Garters grass  but you can see how lovely the amelanchier is. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,993
    Dove - you need to stop taking photos when you're drunk....
    I'd agree - the rowan looks done. I also think the drooping nature is a direct result of the lower damage on the trunk. It doesn't look that great right down at ground level either...
    I don't doubt you've made a, possibly only temporary,  difference to your tree n.philip, but I'm not sure it's a great idea to block holes in living things with something meant for diy purposes, for the reasons doc gives :|
    Keep us updated though.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,152
    Fairygirl said:
    Dove - you need to stop taking photos when you're drunk....

    You've sussed me Fairy :flushed:
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thanks for all your comments.

    We've only just been in the house for a couple of months so the garden had to take a back seat. 

    I don't know what plants are planted under the tree, the leaves had a carpet of bindweed on top, I ripped it out and mowed over the area just to keep it at bay for now  (you will have to excuse me as I don't have much knowlege of the different plants, I've just googled Muscari leaves and found they are Grape Hyacinth, my favourite flower so I do hope they are). 

    I think the scorching summer and drought must not have helped the tree.  I cut a branch off last week and it wasn't dry.  I might take JennyJ's advice and wait until Spring, see if it rallies and mulch the area.

    The whole area looks quite miserable anyway compared to your lovely gardens, hopefully some surprise spring flowers will lift the grey of the drive and gravel.

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