Ash Tree Oozing: Reasons For Ash Tree Leaking Sap


Many native deciduous trees, like ash, can leak sap as a result of a common bacterial disease called slime flux or wetwood. Your ash tree may ooze sap from this infection, but you might also see, coming from the bark, foaming white material that does not look at all like sap. Read on for information about why an ash tree is dripping sap.

Why is My Tree Leaking Sap?

The bacterial infection called slime flux results when bacteria grows inside a wounded tree. Several types of bacteria are implicated, although botanists have not identified a main culprit. These bacteria generally attack an ill tree or one that is stressed from too little water. Usually, they enter through a wound in the bark.

Inside the tree, fermentation occurs from the bacteria and carbon dioxide gas is released. The pressure of the gas release pushes the ash tree’s sap through the wound. Sap spills out, making the outside of the tree trunk look wet.

An ash tree leaking sap is very likely infected by these bacteria. This is especially true if there is foam mixed with the sap.

Why is My Ash Tree Oozing Foam?

The wet areas of sap on the outside of your ash tree become breeding grounds for other organisms. If alcohol is produced, the sap foams, bubbles and produces an awful smell. It looks like an ash tree oozing foam.

You may see many different types of insects and insect larva coming to dine on the spilled sap and foam. Don’t be alarmed, since the infection cannot be spread to other trees by means of insects.

What to Do When an Ash Tree is Dripping Sap

The best offense in this case is a good defense. Your ash tree is far more likely to get infected by slime flux if it suffers from drought stress. In addition, the bacteria usually seeks a wound to enter.

You can help the tree to avoid this infection by watering it regularly when the weather is dry. One good soaking every two weeks is probably enough. And take care not to wound the tree trunk when you are weed-whacking nearby.

If, despite these precautions, your tree continues to ooze sap, there is little you can do to help the tree. Remember that most trees with slime flux do not die of it. A small infected wound is very likely to heal on its own.

Other Reasons My Ash Tree is Dripping Sap

Ash trees are often are infested by aphids or scales, both small but common insects. It is possible that the liquid you identify as sap is actually honeydew, a waste produce produced by aphids and scales.

Honeydew looks like sap when it falls like rain from a tree badly infected with these bugs, coating bark and leaves. On the other hand, don’t feel you need to take action. If you leave aphids and scale alone, no grand harm comes to the tree and predator insects usually step up to the plate.

Other insects affecting this tree, and possibly causing it to leak sap, include the emerald ash borer.


What Are the Causes of Excessive Tree Sap Drip?

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A network of channels, like the vascular system in animals, carries sap containing water and nutrients from the roots to the rest of a tree. During the dormant period, deciduous trees withdraw most of their sap from their branches and trunk, but then in late winter and spring, sap is drawn up again from the roots. Excessive sap dripping occurs because of inappropriate pruning, mechanical injuries, canker development or insect damage.


Reasons Water Comes Out of Trees

If your tree is leaking water from the trunk,, there is a good chance your tree has bacterial disease called wetwood, also known as slime flux. This disease enters and seeps out of the trees in a liquid form that looks like water. It’s not usually a little liquid either. You will usually see a decent amount of liquid/water all on the trunk.

If your tree has missing bark, any wounds, broken parts, this is where the disease enter the tree. Once inside the tree, the disease/bacteria (called anaerobes) produces a gas. This gas builds up in three tree and once the pressure becomes too much a liquid pours out of the bark. Initially, the liquid will look clear, but it will change into a brown or yellow liquid that both smells and stains the tree. The bacteria can multiply and spread for many years within the tree before you even notice the tree is sick. Other bacteria, insects, and fungi may feed on the dripping slim, which will also make the smell worse.

Although this disease can affect any tree, it attacks mostly maple, birch, oak, elm, and poplar trees. The liquid is usually toxic to most plants so if it drips onto the grass, the touched grass will likely die.

The healthier the tree the better the chance it can fight off and beat the disease. If your tree was sick and weak before getting this infection, your tree may begin to break, and the leaves will turn colors.

There is no cure for bacterial wetwood, but if you find out your tree has this disease, you need to keep it as healthy as possible, so it can live with the disease. A tree can live for many years with the bacteria. Never rip or peel off the bark. Give your tree lots of water. Make sure nothing big or heavy (cars or machinery) is hitting the trees or roots. Do not place compacted soil or mulch right up against the base of the tree.


Why is water leaking, falling, oozing or gushing from my tree trunk? (Slime flux)

You can thank bacterial wetwood, also known as slime flux. It's a disease that works its way into tree wood and spills out in the form of thin, water-like liquid.

Why is this happening?

Wetwood-causing bacteria enter trees through wounds in the roots, trunk or limbs.

Once inside, the bacteria produce gas within the tree. Pressure mounts, and eventually runny liquid seeps out through openings in the bark. The liquid starts out thin and transparent, then becomes a slimy, smelly ooze. As it drips down, it stains the tree's trunk a yellow or dark brown.

Are maple trees more likely to leak clear liquid?

Yes, bacterial wetwood is most common in maple, elm, oak, poplar and birch trees. But, since so many different bacteria can spark wetwood, it can also happen to lots of other trees.

Is bacterial wetwood harmful?

Damage done by bacterial wetwood depends on the condition of your tree. For most trees, the stained bark is as bad as it gets. In fact, the bacterial infection may actually inhibit fungal decay development.

But stressed trees, particularly those suffering from soil compaction or drought stress, can get worse because of bacterial wetwood. It's not very common, but some trees’ leaves yellow and wilt. Others may suffer from branch dieback.

Can I stop bacterial wetwood or slime flux?

Sadly, no. Once a tree is infected, there's no way to cure the disease.

But, your tree can still survive for years to come, even with its oozing trunk. The best way to manage bacterial wetwood is to keep your tree stress-free with these steps:

  1. Don’t strike the tree when mowing the lawn. You don't want to risk weakening your tree while it’s dealing with a disease. That just adds more stress.
  2. Don't remove healthy bark just because it's stained.
  3. Give your tree adequate water during a drought.
  4. Check if your tree has compacted soil, which is another serious stressor. If it does, fix it.

Click here for more ways to boost your trees’ health!

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Gum and bleeding is a result of a break in the bark of the tree and, there are a lot of different things that can break through the bark. The injury can be due to freeze damage (in this case the sap shows up in the early summer), or from insects or mechanical damage.

There are three groups of organisms that can cause cankers on cherries and result in a gummosis response.
· One is a bacteria in the genus Pseudomonas which causes a disease known as bacterial canker.
· Another is a fungus in the genus Leucostoma (Cytospora) that causes Leucostoma canker of Prunus.
· The third is usually called fungal gummosis and is caused by the fungus Botryosphaeria dothidea.

It is not important in a practical sense to identify the specific organisms involved but, it is important from a diagnostic point of view to differentiate between insect infestation, mechanical injury, and infectious disease. In all three of the diseases listed above, the key diagnostic feature is the canker.

A canker is a necrotic (dead), often sunken lesion on a stem, branch, or twig of a plant. In the case of gum bleeding from the trunk of a cherry tree, a canker can be identified by the death of tissue immediately beneath and surrounding the point of gummosis. If you carefully scrape away the gum and probe the bark beneath, you will find the bark loose and the tissue beneath discolored. In fact, the bark at the point of gummosis may slough off easily indicating dead tissue. Clean the gum away with a sterile knife but do not dig too deeply, then treat with a copper fungicide, available at most lawn and garden stores. Read and follow label instructions.

Keep the tree well watered, watering once a month through the winter, then see how it looks in the spring. It may recover if there is physical damage which is not too extensive.

Hope this was helpful. Feel free to contact us again.


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