A canker is equivalent to an open wound in the bark of a tree or woody shrub. It is a disease caused primarily by a fungus but occasionally by bacteria that enters through the bark by way of a wound. Cankers usually form a split in the bark which then roles back upon itself along the edges.

Once formed, there is no "cure" for a canker. There is only prevention by avoiding making wounds in the tree if possible. Of course, you cannot control high winds, ice loads or other natural occurrences that will damage the bark of a tree. You can, however, avoid improper pruning cuts, running into trees with lawn mowers and other power equipment and planting trees too deep in the ground.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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