Metro-East Living

Trim ‘bleeder’ trees in midsummer or late fall

There are different types of Pholiota species mushrooms that feed on dead tree stumps and roots during moist conditions.
There are different types of Pholiota species mushrooms that feed on dead tree stumps and roots during moist conditions.

Q: I have a maple tree 5 or 6 years old. I need to trim the lower branches. When would be the best time to do this?

M.G. of Cahokia

A: Maples fit into the group of trees that should be trimmed in midsummer or late fall as they produce large quantities of sap in spring. They are known as “bleeders” if they are pruned in spring. This bleeding usually does not hurt the tree. But it can become attract insects that will feed on the sap and may attract certain birds that will make holes to feed on the sap. Other known “bleeders” that should be trimmed in midsummer or late fall include birch, dogwood, elm, walnut and yellowwood.

Q: Where in the Belleville area can I get soil tested?

L. M. of Belleville

A: Alvey Laboratory at 1511 East Main in Belleville will do the test. The telephone number is 618-233-0445. This time of year is a great time to have soiled tested as any recommended remedy can still be applied this fall.

Q: My yard is being taken over by what is called wood sorrel. Would a pre-emergent herbicide this time of year help bring it under control for next spring? Should I also winter fertilize before or after using the herbicide? It’s the kind that gets the little yellow flowers.

B.W. of Belleville

A: Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis europaea) is an annual weed and some years can act as a perennial weed. At this time of the year, a pre-emergent herbicide would not be effective as this type of herbicide prevents the seed from germinating. If you are having trouble with this weed at this time of year, you can still fertilize your lawn areas and if the weather gets cold enough this winter it will kill the growing sorrel plants. Some people call it “sour grass” because the weed has a sour or acid taste. The first scientific name of this plant refers to oxalic acid which produces the sour taste. It also has a clover-shaped leaf to confuse matters even more.

Q: Enclosed are photos of “stuff” growing like a bad sci-fi movie in our backyard. We had a tree cut down earlier this year and these things seem to follow the root trails. Can you identify these things and advise me how to get rid of them? Thanks.

B. S. of New Athens

A: You are not the only person with this problem in your yard. This is a special group of mushrooms – genus Pholiota species which feed on dead tree stumps and roots when sufficient amount of moisture is available, especially in the fall. Each species of mushroom is will feed on a particular species of tree. There are 10 of these species found in our area. Without the actual specimen, I cannot determine the species.

You can blast them with water from a hose and blow them apart or you can wait and they will dry up as the weather becomes drier. They may appear again next year. They help the woody tissue of the remaining tree parts break down and allow nutrients to become available to other plants.

Do it now

  • SHRUBS AND TREES: Remove dead, diseased or damaged branches while you can still tell before the leaves fall off.
  • CLEAN-UP: Continue removing plant debris from the beds, both crop residue and especially weeds.