B. Rosie Lerner
Consumer Horticulturist


Check out Rosie's book:Possum in the Pawpaw Tree





Question and Answer

Q. My mimosa tree has split down the middle of the trunk. Is there any way to save it? Or should I just take it down?
A. Split trunks are a common problem with multi-trunked species such as mimosa. Split trunk is a significant factor for a "risk tree," if it is sited where damage to humans, pets or property could occur when, or if, the tree falls. Cabling and bracing can be completed by a certified arborist to help provide structural support, but the split will still be a weak point in the tree, susceptible to disease, insect pests, decay and further splitting. On the other hand, we have all seen trees with major trunk injuries live for many years. You'll need to assess the level of risk this tree poses in your yard and consult with a certified arborist, if needed. Find more information on selecting an arborist at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR-FAQ-13-W.pdf.

Q. This plant sprang up in our landscape material during the drought during this, the driest summer in years. The leaflets are unique, and it has small yellow blossoms near the top. Any information you can provide would be appreciated.


A. The foliage looks to be Senna obtusifolia, also known as sicklepod for its unique, curved seed pod, though it is difficult to be sure without seeing the flowers and/or seed pod. This annual plant is native to only Dearborn County, Indiana (and a few scattered counties in Kentucky and Illinois). Although it is not common here, it is known to be weedy in more southern states. So it might be best to remove it from your landscape bed before seed dispersal. The following links should help you confirm whether or not this is your plant: plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=seob4 and

Q. This mystery plant came up as a volunteer this year in my landscape. Can you tell me what it is?


A. The mystery plant looks like it might be a seedling (volunteer) of an aggressive but pretty plant known as porcelain vine, so named for its lovely pearly blue/purple/white berries. Known botanically as Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (love that name) in the grape family, this plant is a vigorous vine clinging by tendrils, which can reach 15-25 feet, or more. Although the plant could be managed with annual pruning, it can easily get out of control, and it is considered an invasive species in other states, including Michigan. It is also a favorite food for Japanese beetles, so can look quite bedraggled. Additional information is available at http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/ambr1.htm.

Q. I observed leaf discoloration on one of four young ash trees in my backyard. What might be the cause?

A. The leaf discoloration on the ash looks very much like the leaf scorch (browning of the edges) seen on most tree and shrub species this year due to the prolonged heat and drought. Leaf scorch was quite severe this year. In many cases, it led to premature leaf drop and possible plant death in specimens already suffering from other stress and/or newly planted stock. You can check your tree for evidence of green tissue inside a few sample buds, as well as check for green tissue just below the bark on a few twigs. Green is good, brown not so much. We all hope for a gentle winter with good snow cover to help drought recovery next year.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox,