Whats that Green Stuff in my Tree?

Jr. Batty, Kaizer, Mary B.  |  10/23/2008 8:00:21 PM




All too often I get a simple question to a complex answer. I wish it were the other way but more often it doesn’t happen that way. Like the title, “What is the green stuff in my tree?”I usually have to ask several questions to decide what the real problem is.

Is it the leaves? Some leaves are obvious, some not so obvious. Some trees (deciduous trees)

have no leaves at all in fall/winter. A leaf is typically flat, has a stem, and a mid rib. In conifers the leaves are needles. The leaves main function is to absorb sunlight to make plant food through a process called photosynthesis. So in short, you need leaves in your tree. It’s a good thing!

Is it mistletoe? Other than a kiss under this plant at Christmas, it’s not a good thing. Mistletoe is a parasite that takes nutrition and moisture from its host. Found in many trees, its favorite hangout is water oaks. Mistletoe has green or gray green stems and leaves. It may also have sticky, white or pink berries that are poisonous to people. The plant weakens the tree, but seldom kills it.

Is it lichen? Lichen pronounced (LIKE-N) is often mistaken as a plant disease. It appears as brown, yellow, or green crusty leaf like growth on a shaded part of the tree or other wood plants. Lichen is a combination of green algae and fungus. It doesn’t kill the plant but is a sign of poor sunlight and / or air flow.

Yes we have lots of green stuff in our trees. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. The leaves we love, mistletoe has some seasonal benefits away from the tree and lichen we can live with. Clearly identifying “what’s dat” is the first step to insure a healthy tree.

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