Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Deduction for Lost Trees, Wood Fungi, Tree ID, and a Pollinator Plant

Lacebark elm.

Figure 1. A lacebark elm after Hurricane Laura. Photo: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter.

Deduction for Lost Trees

Readers of RSFF continue to ask questions about their landscape after hurricanes Laura and Delta. Camille asks this question, “What about large, decorative good trees in your lawn? Any tax deduction for them?”

The short answer is “Yes!”. Here is the longer answer with some details. If homeowner lost landscape trees due to hurricanes Laura or Delta, then he or she may be able to claim a deduction on a 2020 federal income tax return. Here is a link to a factsheet by Dr. Linda Wang, Tax Specialist, US Forest Service: Income Tax Deduction for Timber Casualty Loss PDF. Go to page 2 and read Special Rules for Damage to Your House and Landscape Trees to see the procedure on how to make the deduction. Print the document at the link shown above and provide it to a tax accountant.

Ear fungus.

Figure 2. An "ear" fungus on a fig tree. Photo: Susan Cannon, Rosepine, LA.

Wood Fungi

Susan observed an unusual growth in her landscape, “I live in Rosepine and just noticed this fungus on my fig tree. What is it? Will it harm my tree?”

AHA consulted with Dr. Raj Singh, the AgCenter’s “Plant Doctor” about this fungus, and Dr. Singh asked some probing questions, “Is the canopy in decline? Was the trunk physically or mechanically injured where the fungus is growing? There are wood rotting fungi that sometime act as opportunistic and feed on decomposing wood.” Then AHA asked Mr. David Lewis, President, Gulf State Mycological Society, for assistance in identifying this fungus. Lewis shared this information, “It is a species of Auricularia, commonly called the ‘ear’ fungus. We have about 5+ species along the Gulf Coast and they all fruit on dead wood.”

These types of fungi infect dead wood, but the living part of the fig tree would be safe from this fungus. The dead parts of the fig tree could be pruned out while the living part of the tree would benefit from soil testing and then fertilizing this coming spring.

Black walnut.

Figure 3. Probably a black walnut tree. Photo: Barney Barger.

Cypress vine.

Figure 4. Flowers and foliage of the cypress vine or hummingbird vine. Photo: Everitt W.

Tree ID

Barney sent an email with some pictures and this note, “I have a new [tree to identify] if you’d be so kind.”

AHA shared his best estimate of the tree’s name, “I think the bark looks like that of a black walnut. I tried to look at the leaves, but I was unable to see leaves in detail. If you can send a picture of the leaves, then I will be able to make a conclusive ID.” This black walnut appears to be in a floodplain.

The US Forest Service (USFS) reports the site preferences of black walnut, “Black walnut is found on a variety of sites but grows best on deep, well-drained neutral soils that are moist and fertile. It grows slowly on wet bottomlands, dry ridges, and slopes.” Here is an important point from the USFS regarding black walnut’s effect on landscapes and gardens, “An antagonism between black walnut and many other plants growing within its root zone has been recognized and attributed to juglone, a toxic substance found in the leaves, bark, nut husks, and roots of black walnut trees. Many garden vegetables and several conifers are susceptible to juglone.”

Pollinator Plant

Everitt wants to know about a unique vine, “I have…climbing vines that seem to fascinate all my visitors. It produces delicate little red flowers that hummingbirds seem to enjoy. This is my 2nd year’s growth from numerous seeds it produced. It's actually an idiot proof vine that anyone [can grow.]”

Everitt’s vine has several names: cypress vine, hummingbird vine, cypressvine morningglory, hummingbird flower, star glory, and cardinal plant.

Texas Agrilife Extension published this paragraph, “Cypress vine is a member of the morning glory family and as such grows very well in our hot…summers. It is a tropical plant that is native to Mexico and Central America. It is a lovely vining plant that can grow 20 feet or more in a single season. Cypress Vine has loose, feathery foliage that is covered with hundreds of tiny, tubular flowers. The star shaped flowers can range in color from deep red to almost white and they are irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.”

NC State Extension has information about growing this pollinator plant, “This invasive vine is original to the tropics of South America and, though an annual, spreads quickly by self-seed propagation. It grows rapidly reaching 10-20 feet but is not sturdy and requires support to grow upright. The delicate, fern-like foliage recoils from direct sunlight but expands after sundown. The bright scarlet red flowers are small, blooming from early summer to fall frost and are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. This plant grows in full sun in average soil and requires good drainage but [it needs] adequate moisture. It tolerates deer, some drought, and both wet and dry soil conditions. Germination of seeds is aided by scarifying and soaking in water for 12-24 hours,

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

10/16/2020 8:19:30 PM
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