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I have 2 cottonless cottonwoods in my back yard. They are both about 7 years old. I noticed this spring that the trees have really grown tall but on the main limbs in the middle of the trees there are no limbs coming from them. I also find little pieces of new branches all over my lawn like they have come off right at the base where they connect to the tree. There are also at those points little scabs of some kind right where the branch has broken off. What is wrong and can I save these trees? I grew this kind of tree because they are fast growing trees and I wanted to enjoy some shade while I was still around to enjoy it. I am so afraid that there is something seriously wrong and those years will be lost. Can you help me with the info I have given you? I would appreciate it so much if you have an idea of what is wrong and what I can do to fix it.
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Cottonwoods and willows are subject to a large variety of serious insect
and disease problems. Though I can't tell for certain from your
description, it is very likely that these trees have (or will get) a
fungal stem canker, a disease that kills part of the vascular system and
causes everything from that point up to die. Cankers can affect small
twigs or larger branches. The only thing you can do is keep the tree
vigorous (meaning water a lot), and prune out any clearly dead material
below the point of death and dispose of it. This is unlikely to help for
long though. Pesticides will not help.
For these reasons I do not recommend the planting of cottownwoods,
poplars, aspens, and willows, except for temporary effect or on sites
where they are native. If a person wants a strong, fast growing tree I
recommend London planetree (sometimes called sycamore).
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