ivory silk tree: bark peeling

(Question)

The bark on my 4 year old Ivory Silk tree in N. Mississauga close to hwy 401 is peeling. I cannot see any pests; when I peel the bark further than the current peeled layer, the underlayer is green. The tree is in a S facing, protected, sunny location; planted in a good topsoil and compost mix. The first year after planting there were many flowers, the following year none, and this past year only 1. I would like to know whether the tree can be salvaged. Photos attached.

(Answer)

From your description it sounds as if you are dealing with southwest or sunscald injury. Young deciduous trees with thin bark and southwest exposure are most susceptible to this injury.

Sunscald or southwest injury occurs mostly on the south and southwest sides of smooth-barked trees. Alternate freezing and thawing or extreme drops in temperature after a bright, sunny winter day can cause cracks to form in trees due to the sunny side of the tree expanding at a different rate than the colder, shaded side. The result is a vertical fissure down the center of the tree trunk, causing strips of bark to peel off, exposing the tree’s inner wood.

Frost cracks may cause stress for your tree and provide a point of entry for pests and diseases. Damage from sunscald injury may eventually heal, but the damaged areas should not be painted or filled with any sealing substance. Also make sure not to peel away anymore of the bark.

You may wish to contact a certified arborist to consult on the health of your tree. Here is a link to a certified arborist in your area: www.isaontario.com/content/public

Good Luck and I hope you have continued enjoyment of this beautiful tree for years to come.