Thread: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

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  1. #1

    Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    we just had the worst windstorm I've seen since I have lived in this state. 50 - 70 mph gusts of hot, dry, pure sand.

    I purchased a young smoke tree from the arbor day webstore. I planted it along with many free seedlings. He was one of 3 out of 15 who actually sprouted, after much care. His leaves were many and beautiful--and he was doing SO well.

    Then, we had this desert windstorm today. It just ended.

    It killed my phlox (basically wind-blasted and dried them to crisp fronds) and lavender, and the poor little smoke tree fought the wind. I tried to create a windblock for him, to no avail. The winds were terrible--but more than the speed of the wind, the literal sand blasting was the issue.

    Now that the storm has stopped, I went out to look at the smoke tree. All of the leaves are amazingly still attached. However, they are not flat and supple any more. They are ridged, curled, and still feel damp to the touch--but they look so beaten and bruised.

    I don't have much experience with young trees, or what they can withstand. All I know is, he was perfect in every way before, and now his leaves are all withered and curled. The feel dry at the edges, but the main leaf bodies are still damp.

    Should I water him?
    Does the leaf damage mean he is doomed?
    Is there anything I can do for it to help it spring back?

    I am so heartbroken.

    Of all the baby trees I planted, this guy and two crabapples were the only ones that sprouted and were doing well. The crabapples, by the way, seem fine??

    This sucks so bad! I feel so bad for that little tree! I'll try and snap a pic in the morning, but I wonder if there are any emergency manuevers I can do tonight.

  2. #2
    Oak
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    May 2005
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    Maryland zone 7
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    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    Hi Thentavius,

    So sorry to hear this. On the bright side, leaves are expendable to trees so yours should be ok if the roots weren't damaged or the stems didn't get too dry from the wind. Do watch for pests if the bark was broken by the bits of sand.

    Consider cutting back the other plants and see if they sprout from the roots. Don't overwater them though.

    Newt
    When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

  3. #3

    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted ALL TREES (and Smoke Tree)

    Thanks, Newt. That offers a bit of hope. This windstorm was devastating! The winds themselves weren't as dangerous as the hot air and flying sand. It was unexpected, and all over the city there is tons of damage.

    Two more sad notes...

    The beautiful Cypress you guys identified for me is now permanently? bent the direction of the strongest winds. I am attaching a before and after pic.

    What can I do for it? There are no noticeable breaks in it. Just, the whole trunk is now bending.

    The Acacia you helped me identify is also shriveled and sandblasted, just like the Smoke Tree (leaves are all withered and shriveled up), all of the flowers are blasted to pieces.

    The crabapples? The only thing in my yard that's perfectly fine. Even most of the fence came down.
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  4. #4

    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    Attached are a before pic of the Cypress, and a pic of the poor shriveled Smoke Tree (which looks a *little* better this morning).

    The Acacia's leaves look even worse--but, I am sure the Acacia is fine. The main tree is OK, and if the leaves are expendable, he will survive with no issues. He'll just look funny for now.

    But that poor bent Cypress... Where I grew up, we had strong south to north winds, and almost all of the trees in the city were bent slightly north. However, this didn't happen overnight. I've never seen a tree get bent overnight like this.
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  5. #5
    Oak
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    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    You are so very welcome! Glad to know that with the sun has come some improvements. I'm wondering what state you are in.

    For your cedar I would recommend that you take a close look at the base of the tree to see if the roots have shifted. If not you could tie a guy wire around the trunk just where the bend starts and GENTLY pull the top of the tree straight. Use a piece of garden hose or something like it to protect the trunk from injury. Keep the wire on for about a month and then check to see if the trunk is straight on it's own. Take a look here for some help.
    http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/Matur...trunkbends.htm
    http://www.arborday.org/media/stormr...eesbesaved.cfm
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1141.html

    Newt
    When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
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    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    I keep telling mother nature that the lack of trees in the desert is a critical design flaw.

    Ilived in florida for a while in '04. Planted a bunch of trees then along came a hurricane. Newt might remember this from the other tree forum, I was contemplating digging up the trees and replanting them after the storm passed. Well I didn't. I came back to find 90% still standing. One of them was sawed in half by a flying fence. But none of them had any leaves or they were are shredded up.

    2 weeks later the leaves were back and looked like nothing happened. Of course then came another hurricane, a second direct hit and there went the leaves again. They managed to survive that storm too.

    And after I planted a bunch of stuff in the fall it got very windy on a few occasions. Blew my hydrangeas to bits and broke off stems. I was not happy about that. They have come back beautifully though like nothing ever happened. Give them some time and more love

  7. #7

    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    I really, really appreciate your help and support. I just felt so devastated last night--and I still do after surveying the damage today. That poor Acacia, too!

    I'm in New Mexico. Rio Grande Valley. Albuquerque.

    I'm sure the wind force doesn't seem like much to someone who lived through a hurricane--but it was so strong for this area, that it knocked all kinds of things down all around town. Also, the worst part, was it was probably in the upper 80s and the wind was hot. There was so much sand and rock in the air, at the worst of it visibility was probably less than 5 feet.

    Every single plant in my yard was damaged. Most of the lavender literally flash-dried during the storm, and is not coming back even after soaking.

    I am so glad most of your plants and trees have sprung back from that hurricane. Plants are so amazing--and your story gives me hope that my guys will all eventually come back. I just can't believe this. The weather forecast didn't say anything about it, and it surprised and stumped all of them meteorologists. It lasted for about 6 hours. Parts of the city are still without power this morning.

    Oh--and I will definately try pulling the tree up. I inspected all around the trunk, and there does not seem to be any major disturbance. I assume that if there was major root pulling, the ground would be disturbed, or it would somehow be obvious or disrupted. It looks even more droopy now than it did earlier (possibly because the wind is blowing again, in the same direction).

  8. #8
    Oak
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    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    QQ, yes I do remember what you and so many others went through. Even after witnessing Katrina's devistation in New Orleans in September, I was amazed on my visit in February to see so much in bloom and recovering. Hope the people and animals can recover as quickly!


    Thentavius, glad to know that things look better today. Mother nature can sure pack a punch. With those hot and drying winds you might want to keep checking the soil moisture around the roots of the plants. Stick your finger into the soil to see if it's dry to your second knuckle. If so, it's time to water. Sprinkling the leaves of the trees and shrubs wouldn't hurt either if it's still hot and windy. The leaves will take in some moisture as well. Washing the dust off the leaves would be a good thing too.

    Hang in there!
    Newt
    When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

  9. #9

    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    Just wanted to show you guys how that tough little smoke tree is doing.

    Refer back to my earlier pics of the poor little windbeaten tree. When I bought him from the Arbor Day tree store, he was barely 8" tall with a thin little trunk. That horrible windstorm blasted him, and I was afraid he wouldn't make it.

    We've had several such desert "monsoons" (as they call them) since then, and each time we have one, the tree gets BIGGER.

    The pics earlier in this thread are of the smoke tree back in May. This is what it looks like now. Absolutely amazing. The trunk really looks and feels like a trunk now. It's about 2 feet tall, with his trunk diameter at least three times what it was when I planted it.

    And look at that awful, dead sandy soil he's thriving in... Woweee. Thought I'd share a little happiness.
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  10. #10

    RE: Heartbroken - Windblasted Smoke Tree

    And another pic of how the smoke tree is doing, September, '06.
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