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Name: Michael
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 10/16/2004

In front of our school (Colton, Southern California) are a row of 12 Crape myrtle trees that a groundsman has used a gas weedwhacker last year and cut the cambium layer around the whole base of each. Needless to say the trees are very close to dead. Is there any way to fix/repair the cambium? I hate the idea of pulling them out and replanting.

Dear Michael,

It may be difficult to rescue them now, but what I would do is a cambial graft. Ideally, I would cut a healthy square or rectangle of the cambial layer probably more likely from below (or above) the damaged area. Trim the top and the bottom edge of the patch at an angle to increase the contact area of the active cambial layer. I would then cut out a corresponding patch from the damaged area that will bridge the wacked area once again at an angle that will match flush with the cut piece. You will want to place the bark patch in the same orientation as originally and then bind the trunk with some waxed cloth. At a well-established plant nursery, they should have grafting materials and actually grafting expertise.

Good luck. I wish you the best.

Jim Tokuhisa

Sorry but if the cambium is removed in a ring from around the whole tree (girdled), then there is nothing that can be done to remedy the situation at this time.

Anthony Brach Ph.D.

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