Please identify: White patches with worm-like structures on my Chinese elms bark

Niigel

Seed
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Hello dear Bonsai Nut community,

I am glad to put my first post on that great forum but I unfortunately have to deliver a concerning message regarding my Chinese Elm.

A general overview about my tree:
My Chinese elm is about 10 years old and 35 cm (14 inches) in size. I bought it in late spring/early summer (May) from my local trusted bonsai-shop and slip-repotted it into a new pot with very slight and careful root pruning/reordering. It has grown vigorous this year as I had to do back pruning like three times from May to September. The sun shines from morning until later noon with a small break due to surrounding trees, so that it has the half of the day in full sun and for the rest of the day it is bright without direct sun. I am living in northern Germany which means the weather conditions are not optimal but should still work out quiet fine for an Chinese elm. The tree sits in Acadama (30%), grit (30%), coconut shell (20%) and fine pinebark (20%). Fertilizing and watering has been done pretty "average".

The concerning problem with my tree:
After the Chinese elm came to my garden, I noticed white to light-gray patches on the bark of its backside. I was not much concerned initially as I thought it was just a little dry for too long or any other minor problem. Unfortunately, the stain/patch became bigger over the last months. As you can see on the photos, it looks like a combination of lichen and mold with some "worm-like" structures inbetween. At first I thought the "worms" may be some surface irregularities of the bark but after several inspections I am not sure anymore... You cannot simply rub the patches off, not even with your nails. However, I did not try it with something like a knife or a wire brush. Should I?

I am really concerned... maybe someone here is able to identify whats wrong with my elm and whats these patches are!? I would be very happy about any idea/help of you!

Best wishes,
Niigel



------------ PHOTOS --------------

Backside of the tree with the strange patches
IMG_20210930_180354.jpg

Front of the tree. Patches just a little visible.
IMG_20210930_180409.jpg

Close up view 1
IMG_20210930_180325.jpg

Close up view 2
IMG_20210930_180349.jpg
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
10,577
Reaction score
21,454
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
(1) Welcome to the site!

(2) I see nothing wrong / unnatural with your tree. Chinese elm is an exfoliating tree. It grows its bark in patches, and patches will regularly flake off the trunk. Though the cracking on the trunk looks as if it might be worms or bugs, I believe it is just a natural process of the outer bark dying and then drying... prior to flaking off.

339926a69700aa3c1e39da4f3d6d2b5d.jpg
 

Niigel

Seed
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Hello Bonsai Nut,
Hello penumbra,

thank you guys for your replies!

First of all: I am really relieved that none of you diagnosed something bad. 😊

My question, however, is whether you are really sure that my elm is just exfoliating its bark? Have you seen it like that before? To me it does not look like flakes of bark (like it does on your photo, Bonsai Nut). Nothing in my case does loosen, nothing is shedding or flaking of. Instead it looks like the white "thing" is growing inside and on the bark and slowly taking over the whole tree. As I mentioned earlier: you cannot pull it off nor can you rub it off. Moreover, I looked up several images and videos of exfoliating trees and, to me, it looked very different.

Sorry, I dont want to cast doubt on your knowledge or so. I just cant believe it. 😁 Lets hope you guys are right! In case my tree really starts shedding of its bark, I will track the progress with additional photos which I will upload here!
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,373
Reaction score
8,394
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
Don't compare a mature tree to a stick in a pot.
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
30,931
Reaction score
42,578
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Ii would think iit normal iif iit wasn't for that red sappy lookiing driipish thiing.

Welcome to Crazy!

Ii thiink iit's as Normal as a son named Norman by a Mom named Norma.

Sorce
 

Forsoothe!

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,878
Reaction score
8,941
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
6b
The white-ish stuff looks a lot like birdshit. Just as we are what we eat, birdshit is a mix of what the birds eat and I wouldn't bet one way or the other just how durable some kinds of birdshit is on a trunk where it can soak in and be influenced in combination with the cellulose and lignum of the tree. That said, there is no disease know to me that has this look as a symptom. I would spray the whole tree with soapy water made by nearly filling a spray bottle with cold water and adding a couple ounces of Dove dishwashing liquid and stirring slowly. Spray that on and scrub lightly with a toothbrush. Treat the birdshit as dirty and tell us the results. (Don't return the toothbrush to normal service, -buy a new one.)
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
Messages
10,577
Reaction score
21,454
Location
Charlotte area, North Carolina
USDA Zone
8a
Sorry, I dont want to cast doubt on your knowledge or so. I just cant believe it. 😁
Ask yourself the simple question: "have you ever seen worms to be so regular?"

Do these look like worm trails on slate on a dewy morning? Or something much more regular - like cracks in Arizona mud after a spring rain? Each one exactly the same short distance, equadistant from its neighbors? Worms no... dessication yes :)
 

Forsoothe!

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,878
Reaction score
8,941
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
6b
I see some light wire marks. Is that what you see?
 

Niigel

Seed
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
Thanks to all of you guys! And sorry again for my initial misbelief, I am just a simple Bonsai-beginner who never came in contact with an exfoliating young "stick in a pot" 😁

The white-ish stuff looks a lot like birdshit. Just as we are what we eat, birdshit is a mix of what the birds eat and I wouldn't bet one way or the other just how durable some kinds of birdshit is on a trunk where it can soak in and be influenced in combination with the cellulose and lignum of the tree. That said, there is no disease know to me that has this look as a symptom. I would spray the whole tree with soapy water made by nearly filling a spray bottle with cold water and adding a couple ounces of Dove dishwashing liquid and stirring slowly. Spray that on and scrub lightly with a toothbrush. Treat the birdshit as dirty and tell us the results.
Wouldn't that be a little counterintuitive just in case the tree is exfoliating its bark right now? Don't want to interfere with that process too much. However, the "birdshit idea" of you is a really great tip which I haven't previously thought about.

Don't return the toothbrush to normal service, -buy a new one.
I think one toothbrush is enough for toilet cleaning, bonsai shrubbing and my tooth at the same time... hahaha 😂 Thanks for the tip though 😁

Ask yourself the simple question: "have you ever seen worms to be so regular?"
I have neither claimed nor did I assume worms on my/inside the bark of my tree. I just said these crack-structures appear a little bit "wormy". That was just for reasons of comparability of its structure :) Sorry if I was a little wishy-washy with my enunciation.

I will update you guys with the tree!
 

Bnana

Chumono
Messages
507
Reaction score
533
Location
The Netherlands
USDA Zone
8
To me this looks like the lichen Graphis scripta.
That typically is a thin grey layer with these dark marks (thought to look like writing, hence its name). That is more pronounced in older individuals.
You can leave it, it won't harm the tree, or remove it if you do not like how it looks.
 

Niigel

Seed
Messages
4
Reaction score
4
To me this looks like the lichen Graphis scripta.
That typically is a thin grey layer with these dark marks (thought to look like writing, hence its name). That is more pronounced in older individuals.
You can leave it, it won't harm the tree, or remove it if you do not like how it looks.
Wow, thanks alot Bnana! That looks super similar and should be the answer to my little problem here! Again, I am really happy that it is nothing bad 😊

I will take the exfoliation idea aswell as the birdshit idea off the list then. Thanks to all of you for your replies, assumptions and tips however!
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,373
Reaction score
8,394
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
To me this looks like the lichen Graphis scripta.
That typically is a thin grey layer with these dark marks (thought to look like writing, hence its name). That is more pronounced in older individuals.
You can leave it, it won't harm the tree, or remove it if you do not like how it looks.
Looks like you nailed it.🤔
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom