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MsAM, Arboriculture-expert
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 10818
Experience:  Biology degree, 40 years experience tree-growing.
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Hi, I have a Australian bottle tree which is about 15 years

Resolved Question:

Hi, I have a Australian bottle tree which is about 15 years old. The tree has recently dropped its leaves and is in the early stages of regrowth, although this process seems to be taking a lot longer than previous times. We have had over 8 days of above 40 degree temperatures (Mildura) and the tree trunk and branches are beginning to turn yellow. Is this burning from the sun or possible overwatering as the garden it is in is receiving a lot more water than usual to keep other plants alive. We also removed a few larger branches around 3 months ago. I am worried that the tree is stressed or possibly dying. Any ideas?
Thanks, :)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Arboriculture
Expert:  MsAM replied 3 years ago.

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. There is a large time zone difference between Australia and where I live in the central United States, but we can work around that. Some time may pass between our responses to each other.

There are several possible causes of this. If possible a photo would be useful. You can upload a photo by clicking on REPLY, then at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon (it's right next to the YouTube icon). Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a REPLY.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Anna,


Hope these photos are helpful. They don't really show the yellow up to well. Thanks.

Expert:  MsAM replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the photos. I can see the yellow streaks. I also noticed in the photo where leaves are visible that the leaves have yellow in them, too. The bottle tree has what is called photosynthesizing bark. It is normally green and help the tree produce food. While it's impossible to be certain based only on an online description and photos, yellow streaks in the leaves and photosynthesizing bark often indicate a problem called chlorosis.

A lot of rain or over watering can leach minerals out of the soil. The soil pH can also change due to water conditions, making it difficult for the plant to absorb minerals. These native plants don’t do well with heavy fertilization, so it’s important to use dilute solutions to remedy the problem.

One option is to mix a packet of Epsom salts with 20 liters of water. Add a little chelated iron or iron sulphate. Water it in well around the tree’s base. The Epsom salts will ‘unlock’ the soil if pH is to blame, so minerals can be absorbed. This will have to be repeated weekly for awhile.

The other method is to mix Nitrosol with iron sulphate and dilute it with water about 20 to 1. This can be sprayed on the leaves weekly. All of the products you need should be available at a garden center or nursery.

If these steps don't result in an improvement, especially in the growth and color of the leaves, within a month, it would be best to consult an arborist who can examine the tree firsthand. Soil testing may also help determine exactly what is wrong.

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your tree will quickly respond to the treatments.


Please be sure to rate only SMILEY FACES to complete this transaction, or, if you need more help, click on REPLY and let me know what else you need. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your answer Smile We have been watering a lot extra lately due to the extreme heat. Could the yellow possibly be a result of sunscald as that side of the tree is exposed to the hot afternoon sun and the yellowing is not on the other side of the tree.

Cheers, Kaye

Expert:  MsAM replied 3 years ago.
You're welcome. Let's consider the possibility of sunscald. Look at the leaves on both sides of the tree. I see yellow in the ones that are visible in the photos. Do the ones on the other side of the tree have yellow in them?

In its 15 years, has the tree ever been exposed to high heat before?

Thank you.

Expert:  MsAM replied 3 years ago.

It appears you went offline without seeing my most recent post. I'm going offline for the night soon, and I don't want you to have to wait too long. If you noticed the discoloration early in the spring it may be sunscald. Despite its name, sunscald isn't really the result of hot sun. It occurs when winter temperatures alternate between warm/sunny and freezing. Warm days cause the tree cells in the trunk to become active. Then if it freezes at night, those active cells are damaged or killed. The result is sunscald. It often looks dark and sunken on the tree. Young trees are more prone to sunscald than are older ones. young thin bark is more easily damaged by the conditions that result in sunscald. If you didn't have such conditions, then sunscald is unlikely. Also, sunscald doesn't damage leaves, so if the leaves have yellow in them, something else is responsible.


Trees can also suffer from sunburn caused by intense summer sunlight. This, too, happens most frequently in young trees. It would be unusual, but not impossible, for it to happen to a 15-year-old tree. Symptoms include leaves that turn reddish brown, then take on a burned appearance, and bark that becomes dark and sunken. The bark often breaks apart as the season goes on.



I hope this helps to clarify.


MsAM, Arboriculture-expert
Category: Arboriculture
Satisfied Customers: 10818
Experience: Biology degree, 40 years experience tree-growing.
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