Thursday, May 20, 2010

The live oak gurgles

As we were roaming around the front yard this evening, we happened to spot several butterflies congregated on a live oak. Cool! But as we looked closer, we realized they were actually sipping from the tree. It'd been oozing. Then....I heard gurgling! I looked even closer and saw bubbles coming from the dark brown crack in the bark. Not good. Not good at all! So I'm going to contact biologist Robert Edmondson with the Texas Forest Service in Johnson City and ask if we should be concerned.

As for the butterflies, I believe they were variegated fritillaries. But I'm not sure.

UPDATE E-mail received 5/21/2010 8:30 A.M.

Sheryl, what you are observing is nothing to be concerned about. That is a condition known as phloem necrosis or “slime flux.” It’s caused by a bacteria in the tree. As the bacteria goes through its life processes, it produces that “slime.” It’s merely a by-product of a fermentation process. It’s not harmful to the tree; there is no known treatment and it provides food for insects, especially butterflies. Elms and oaks are the most common tree species where this occurs. Again, don’t worry about it. It is not harming the tree.

Robert Edmonson
Biologist II
Texas Forest Service

1 comment:

Lavender Rabbit said...

Lovely pictures, the butterflies are beautiful. I'm really glad your tree is ok, I love oaks. Just found your blog, look forward to seeing more :)

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