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TOPIC: Backyard willow tree

Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #269

I have a very old, very large weeping willow tree in my back yard. There's a creek back there that provides it with plenty of water, and it being a full-size in-ground tree, my family has never really given it any extra care. I only recently got into bonsai, and have been considering from the very beginning to either save a few seedlings from the lawn mower or snip off a small branch from the base. Unfortunately, this past storm struck down one of the main trunks, (it used to split into four individual ones) revealing that the trunk is entirely rotted out. The species of willow is either salix alba or a hybrid between salix alba and salix fragilis. There are large, brown-grey plate growths on the trunk, (which have been there for some time) as well as tiny red shoots on the surface roots. Our neighbors are sad, as our house is near the entrance to the neighborhood and directly situated beside the pool, making our 40+ foot white willow a familiar icon of the area. I definitely want to save it if I can, but the entire trunk is filled with soft, rotted wood. So my question is this; is it safe to take seedlings and cuttings from this tree? Will they already be infected with whatever has struck our mighty icon down, or do we have a chance to, perhaps, save a piece of it?
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #277

You can always try to take seedlings and cuttings ;)

But maybe you can save the big willow, can you post maybe some photos of the tree and those red shoots and brown-grey plate growths?

The trunk of old willows do rotten out sometimes, that's why you see often willows with bays in it, that is just rotten out of the trunk.

With some pictures it might be clearer to see and understand what's exactly happening to your tree.
  • Youri1995
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #293

Ok, here are the pics. The first one is just a wide view of the entire tree. The next one is a shot of the woodpile, so you can see how massive the limb was before the storm knocked it down. Then (and I apologize for the blurriness, my camera isn't good at up-close stuff) it's the red shoots followed by the plate growths, one a remnant from last year's and the other this year's new ones. Finally, the trunk of the tree and a close-up of the rotten hole, complete with insects. I hope this helps.

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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #294

Howdy,
well the red shoots are new roots forming,the plates are a type of fungus,Ive seen these things 3foot wide before, they are no harm to the tree. the tree itself looks to have carpenter ants nesting in it which probubly happend after the tree stated to get soft and rot. I would sugjest contacting an arborist they would know the best actions to take to save the tree.Your biggest threat is the tree not being able to support itself which is most likely why the last branch broke.i dont see why it couldnt be cabled together to support itself better
best of luck i hate to see trees die.
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #297

That makes perfect sense-the naturally occurring softening of the wood that happens in old willows, combined with the inherent wetness of the area, attracted carpenter ants. Now the ants are nesting within the trunk of the tree. Unfortunately, the infestation is too deep too stop. :( According to the last homeowner, who did call an arborist, the tree has been in decline for about as long as I've been alive. Maybe if we had moved here sooner, we could have taken care of it... I can take cuttings and seedlings, they should be safe, but the wonderful old willow is succumbing to nature's way of cleaning up dead trees, even though it's not dead yet. Thanks for helping me to solve the mystery of the tree, and now I can make my willow bonsai secure in the knowledge that an insecticide will protect it. Also, mom and I have decided to set up a joint project to raise a little willow to take up the mantle when this one succumbs. (Technically this will be a bonsai, but we'll only keep it in the pot until the carpenter ants disperse, and we'll allow it to reach full size.) Again, thanks for helping me solve the mystery!
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #298

you can get apretty large cutting to root ive seen logs with branches left on them root. try cuting a larger branch put a rooting hormone on the cut for good measure and put it in a bucket of water. i am not positive it will work but its worth a try...and its faster than starting with a seedling or twig
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 5 months ago #300

I agree,

These plates are indeed fungus, growing on trunks. I thought the wound was something smaller, but it's rotten out a large piece of the tree. Maybe there is something that can stop further rotting, and maybe save your tree, but you should ask that to an arborist.

I hate to see these old, beautiful willow (my favourite tree) gone, I hope it'll survive.
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 4 months ago #320

Well, I'm starting with a medium sized branch, about the thickness of a quarter, and I'm trying a new technique for me. Air layering! I had to take a long shower because some of the rooting hormone got on my skin, but it's packaged up nice. Fingers crossed that it roots! I've heard (or rather, read) that air-layering produces really nice surface roots, so I hope this works. Let me know if I did something wrong, because I'm a little apprehensive that I didn't add enough sphagnum moss.

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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 4 months ago #328

Exciting technique, every single time! A willow should root just fine, hope it works out! Keep us posted alright?
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Re: Backyard willow tree 7 years 4 months ago #370

Always. I have yet to contact my local bonsai society (it's located the next town over, and I still only have my learner's permit) so you guys are my go-to people for all things bonsai. The wrapping is still in place after two separate storms, and it looks much the same as it does in the pictures already posted. I'll probably wait another week before daring to look and see if there are new roots.
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