White foam on pine trees

Liquidamber, also known as sweet gum, are generally hardy and relatively pest free. They do have a few problems, though. Since this is a large tree, it is not likely that this is the result of poor planting. Check that their is not a lot of mulch piled around the base. This can choke the tree and lead to dieback, even on large trees.
Recent root disturbances can cause dieback. Any construction or trenching within the branch spread will cut enough roots that the tree may be affected. Girdling roots are another possibility. These are roots that encircle the base of the tree, and strangle it as they grow larger over the years.
Liquidamber also are susceptible to a disease known as phloem necrosis. It is a canker disease, meaning it infects the bark tissues and the sapwood underneath. Once enough of the bark is killed around a limb or trunk, the tree exhibits dieback of the branches above that point. The infected parts can be removed by pruning, if it doesn’t severely disfigure the tree. Keeping the tree healthy and free of stress is also important.
Find a good local certified arborist to check the tree. There may be other problems not mentioned here, and an on-site visit is the only way to find the cause of the problem. You can find a ISA Certified Arborist at the . Follow links to Find a Certified Arborist. There are many listed throughout the world on this site.
Good luck.


Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA

Alcoholic Flux Treatment: Tips For Preventing Alcoholic Flux In Trees

If you’ve noticed frothy-like foam seeping from your tree, then it has likely been affected by alcoholic flux. While there is no real treatment for the disease, preventing alcoholic flux may be your only option to avoid future outbreaks. Keep reading to learn more frothy flux info.

What is Alcoholic Flux?

Alcoholic flux is a stress-related disease that affects sweet gum, oak, elm and willow trees. It usually occurs after a period of very hot, dry weather. The disease is caused by a microorganism that ferments the sap that seeps or bleeds from cracks and wounds in the bark. The result is a white, frothy ooze that has a sweet, fermenting odor similar to beer.

Alcoholic flux is sometimes called frothy flux or foamy canker because of the white ooze that looks and feels like melted marshmallows. Fortunately, this ooze only lasts for a short time in summer.

Frothy Flux Info and Prevention

Anything that promotes the overall good health of the tree aids in preventing alcoholic flux. Symptoms usually occur after a period of extremely hot, dry weather, so water the tree deeply during dry spells. Apply the water slowly to encourage absorption to a depth of 18 to 24 inches. Water the entire area under the canopy of the tree and cover the root zone with mulch to cut down on water evaporation and keep the roots cool.

A good annual fertilization program helps keep trees healthy and able to resist disease. For mature trees, this means at least one feeding a year, usually in late winter or early spring as the leaves begin to bud. Young trees benefit from two or three smaller feedings over spring and summer.

Wounds and cracks in the bark make it easier for the microorganism to enter the tree. Also, you should prune damaged and diseased limbs back to the collar. Use alcohol, a 10 percent bleach solution or a household disinfectant to clean the pruning tools between cuts so that your tools don’t spread disease to other parts of the tree.

Take care when using a string trimmer around the tree, and mow the grass so that debris flies away from the tree rather than toward it to avoid chips in the bark.

Alcoholic Flux Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no effective alcoholic flux treatment, but the symptoms only last a short while in a healthy tree. In severe cases, the layer of wood under the bark may become rotten and mushy. If the tree doesn’t recover properly, it should be cut down.

Q: I have a very unique situation. I have several pine trees that foam during a hard rain. It looks like dish water because it has real bubbles around the base of the trunk and the suds run down these trees as well.

I have taken pictures to prove to people that I am not a crazy person. There is no smell to these suds. I picked them up in my hand and they are literally bubbles. The Georgia Forestry confirmed that this isn’t rosin or flux.

A: I love odd phenomena in the natural world. Lucky for me, this is one of the oddest I have encountered. My friend Dave Funderburk went out in the rain to examine his pine trees and found the same thing happening. Water running down the trunk of a tree is called stemflow.

Not having a clue about the bubbles, I sent your question to several colleagues.

Entomologist Gretchen Pettis wondered if the trees had been treated for bark beetles, since “there is quite a bit of surfactant (detergent) in sprayed insecticide”.

Shannon Pable theorized that since pine resin has been used in making of soaps…and has some ‘foaming’ properties….the rain could be mixing the water and the resin.

This theory was expounded upon by Steve Pettis, who said:

“My guess is that the foam is caused by the formation of a crude soap on the bark. During drought there is an accumulation of salts, acids and other particles from the air that coat the bark surface (soap is essentially salts and acids). When it rains, these mix with the water and go into solution. The froth (foam) is from the agitation of the mixture when it encounters a barrier (bark plates) during its flow toward the ground. Another example of this phenomenon happens on pavement after long dry periods following a rain. Car tires churn up frothy foam on the freshly wetted streets after a long drought.”

Steve’s explanation makes the most sense to me. So for now, that’s the theory I’m backing!

Tags For This Article: bark, bubbles, drought, foam, insects, pine, stemflow, tree

FOAMING trees – not a practical joke with loads of detergent, but science. When Oxley Highway resident, Lucy Staughton, set out for the school bus run after recent rainfall, what she didn’t expect to see was foaming trees. Mrs Staughton said after two-and-a-half months without rain it was a delight to see a heavy cloudburst come across the family farm, located between Gunnedah and Carroll in late February. The tree lined driveway’s “strange behaviour” following the rain, surprised Mrs Staughton, who had “never seen anything like it”. “I was quite surprised to see the foam running out of the trees,” she said. “Because it was coming out of every tree, I thought it had to be a natural occurence, but it looked like a practical joke with lots of detergent.” The foaming trees had Mrs Staughton intrigued. “I initially thought having been through such a dry period, the eucalypts had a sort of protective coating on their leaves to minimise unneccessary transpiration of moisture,” Mrs Staughton said. But the truth turned out to be even more remarkable she said. Eucalyptus bark and leaves contain glycosylated alkaloids or isoprenoids called saponins, which foam when wet, they don’t emerge from the tree but simply wash off the leaves and bark. Many terrestrial Orchids live at the base of Eucalypt trees precisely because of the “wetting agent” function of the Saponins released from the bark of those trees. “I had no idea eucalypts had this amazing ability to improve water holding of the soil around themselves.” Mrs Staughton said she was lucky to have seen and photograph the occurence as the storm passed as quickly as it arrived. “By the time I returned home from the bus run, most of the foam was gone,” she said.

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