The Scratch Test: Is the Tree Dead or Alive?

“I have a sweet cherry that I bought a few springs ago. Had been doing great, but this spring did not leaf out or bloom. I have scratched the bark and there is green wood under it. I live south of the equator, so I am not nuts (I realize you are going into winter). We had a very wet winter and fall. Is my tree going to be okay or do you think I am going to loose it? Is there anything I can do?



Hi Brian,

Thanks for your question. Usually green bark underneath indicates that the tree is alive.

Have the cherries and plums in your area bloomed or leafed out yet?  If not, no worries — you are just jumping the gun.  If so, it is possible that your tree has not leafed out yet just because your yard has not been warm enough for it to bud out. I would give it a little bit more time (2-3 weeks). If it has not leafed out by then, I would call it dead.

(You can see Brian’s question here.)


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