Dogwood – Sprouts on Trunk

Q: I have a dogwood tree in partial shade which looks healthy enough except that leaves started growing out of the trunk. I thought it was a vine growing up the tree. Someone told me it had a virus called “Gal” but I have never heard of this. Do you have any suggestions?

A: It isn’t a virus. Probably it is a reaction to drought stress. Most broadleaf trees have dormant (epicormic) buds hidden just below the bark along their trunk. The buds usually remain inactivated for the life of the tree. If the tree is stressed, however, the buds break dormancy and sprout new leaves. I commonly see epicormic twigs emerging on trees that have been severely pruned or those that have lost most of their root system. If your dogwood looks healthy overall, clip the epicormic leaves and embark on a program of “babying” this summer. Remember to water it weekly and spread mulch out to the ends of the branches to keep the soil cool.

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