(Click on smaller image to view larger image.)Gail Ruhl, Plant Disease Diagnostician
and Volcano Mulching
This poor tree suffers from two problems: bagworm defoliation and volcano mulching.
More information on bagworms can be found in these publications: E-27 - Bagworms (PDF 32K), the Picture of the Week for 23 July 2001, and the Educator Update for 11 July 2000.
How much mulch could a tree trunk stand if a tree trunk could stand mulch? People do not like to trim the grass around tree trunks or remove unwanted weeds. However, the alternative, applying heaping mounds of mulch right up to the tree trunk, is not a healthy solution, as far as the tree is concerned!! Having personally witnessed the decline and eventual death of young as well as established trees because of excessive mulch applications around the trunk, I cannot urge you enough to on the proper way to mulch a tree!! As mentioned by Dr. Mike Dana in the revised (10/00) HO-100 Planting and Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs (PDF 968K), "keep all mulch way from the trunk of the tree or stems of shrubs". When a thick layer of mulch is placed in direct contact with a tree trunk or shrub stem, the moisture captured by the mulch will keep the bark of the tree or shrub in a continual state of wetness. Eventually,the bark will begin to decay. Insects, fungi, and bacteria will feed on the damaged tissue and the lower trunk will develop a woodrot that will most likely cause eventual death of the tree or shrub.
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The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.