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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette fall color illustration.

Q We planted some October Glory trees in full sun about 12 years ago. They flourished and were gorgeous for the first 10 years. However, last fall and this fall, they started shedding dried up leaves from the inside of the trees in late September. And by the first of November, they have already shed about 80 percent of their leaves -- and the leaves that are left don't contain the vivid color they are known to display. Have any ideas on why this is happening? They are well watered from the irrigation system.

A I think your trees need further investigation. This has been one of the best years for fall color on red maples that I have ever seen. The fact that your trees are shutting down early leads me to believe you have something else going on. It is not water related this year -- we have had ample rainfall, and maples are quite tolerant of weather conditions. Do you see any scarring or cracking on the trunk of the tree, particularly on the southwest side of the trunk? Maples are fairly susceptible to sunscald on the trunk, which can lead to diseases. If you do have sunscald damage, eventually the dead bark and cambium tissue will loosen and peel away from the underlying wood. This damaged tissue can lead to problems with wood-boring insects, canker disease fungi, or wood decay fungi. You can take pictures and sample of the leaves and stems to your county extension office for further diagnosis.

Q Could you help us identify this plant [writer sent a photo]? Thanks in advance for your help.

A I believe the plant in question is commonly called groundsel bush -- Baccharis halimifolia. It is the plant you see dotting the roadsides this time of year with white flowers. This plant is dioecious -- which means there are separate male and female plants. The showy one is the female, and the white color is actually silky hairs, much like you see on dandelion flowers. Female flowers will have many of these white bristles or hairs, while the male flowers will have few. They are fairly weedy looking until they begin their fall bloom. It freely reseeds itself, which could be the reason for it appearing in the potted plant.

Q I would like information on this tree [writer sent photo]. I have never seen anything like it. The tree has long thorns on the trunk. This tree was spotted during a walk along Hot Springs Creek in Hot Springs.

A Wow, that is a lot of thorns for even a honey locust tree. The tree in question is the native honey locust tree -- Gleditsia triacanthos. It has dangerous thorns on the trunk and the branches. The thorns grow from 3 to 8 inches long and are often produced in clusters on the trunk. It is not recommended for home landscapes for an obvious reason. In the past, the thorns have been used for nails, fish hooks, sewing needles and more, but use extreme caution trying to use them -- they are sharp and tough. A thornless cultivar is on the market and does have great yellow fall color.

Q What kind of grass is this [writer sent photo] and how do I get rid of it?

A While the weed does resemble a grass, it is actually a sedge called kyllinga and is closely related to nutsedge or nutgrass. It can be difficult to control. There are several products which can help including: SedgeHammer (halosulfuron) which is a good sedge control choice because it is effective on the common sedges, comes in a small package and has surfactant added to it, plus it is safe on all turfgrasses. HiYield Nutsedge Control also contains halosulfuron. Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns (sulfentrazone) is a quick acting herbicide that is fairly effective on most sedges and safe on most lawn grasses. Repeated applications will be necessary throughout the growing season.

Janet B. Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Write to her at 2301 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or email her at

Groundsel bush
Honey locust thorns

HomeStyle on 11/24/2018

Print Headline: JANET CARSON: In the garden

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