A sunburn on a tree? Can that really happen? Surprisingly, it can. It’s called Sunscald, and it happens when a tree gets too much exposure to sunlight. It can affect really any part of the tree including the bark, leaves, or any fruit the tree might bear.
The bark is usually the part of the tree that gets the worst damage and it could damage all the way to the inner tissue of the tree. If you’ve ever seen bark that looks like it’s been ripped open or shredded not by an animal or person, that’s probably where the bark has been scalded by the sun. It can be pretty obvious if you know what to look for. It will start with a fissure and if it opens all the way to the cambium layer of the tree, it could be impossible for the tree to repair itself.
This happens mostly on trees with very thin the bark so if you have trees such as a Madrona, Birch (which we don’t have a lot of around here), or even a large rhododendron tree, it can be affected by sunscalding.
Sunscalding may not initially damage the tree but if the point happens where the bark starts to break and reach the inner tissue, then the tree is lost most of its protection against other types of organisms that could cause decay and infection. Insects, bacteria, and fungus have easy access to the tree and could cause irreversible damage.
So should you even be worried about sunscalding?
It depends on how much you love the tree and how concerned you are. There are two ways to prevent against sunscalding; either blocked the sunlight or avoid over pruning. Over pruning a tree can expose a lot of the bark that could be susceptible to sunscalding. If you feel that the tree is properly pruned but you want to block it from the harmful rays of the sun, it could be time to put over a cloth wrap or other materials. Some people actually paint the tree to avoid this but, that’s usually not necessary unless you’re growing and orchard.
Also, if you have questions on how to protect your tree from the sun’s rays give us a call. We can make sure that the tree is print correctly and offer other tips and suggestions to save the bark and the life of your tree.