Sick willow

Question: suffering willow

I have a goat willow for 10 years, now it has holes on the highest part of the trunk from which dark, hard material, like a mushroom, comes out, is full of ants, the older branches appear dry and the younger ones have soft leaves. can I still save it and if so how or should I eliminate it as my husband says? THANKS

Sick willow: Answer: suffering willow

Dear Rita, the symptoms you indicate are quite worrying; given the holes and the leakage of resin, it is likely that your willow has been colonized by some wood rods, or by other xylophagous insects, which are eating it from the inside; the sugary resin has also attracted ants and surely mushrooms and molds, which are feasting on your plant, whose life is favored by this cool and humid climate. By now the infestation is very serious, because we are referring to branches that are already dry and vegetation without tone, an unmistakable sign of the strong stress that the plant is undergoing. I believe that it would now be appropriate to chop down the tree, and destroy all the remaining wood, without leaving it to rest in the garden, because insects from the willow could pass to other plants in your garden, or from the neighbor's garden. Many willows are grown in conditions not completely suitable for their development; this does not seem to disturb them, and apparently for some years they seem to grow without problems; but not living in ideal climatic conditions causes a diminished resistance to diseases and parasites, which when attacking some willows do not find any kind of resistance from the plant, which already under stress due to cultivation conditions, remains completely defenseless and it succumbs quickly after being colonized. When a plant presents problems of this type, treatments to eradicate pests should be carried out with great timeliness, or otherwise they are completely useless. In the sense that, right now you can try to use special insecticides against the rodilegno: these are products that should be sprayed into the holes left by insects, and that kill them; but after having killed the insects, in your willow will remain the long holes produced by the parasites, the resin leaking from the holes, the fungi that have found fertile soil on them, and the plant already under heavy stress, such as to have already killed whole branches and caused scarce and not very luxuriant vegetation. You risk starting a long battle that is already lost, which will force you to spread a series of chemical products that are not exactly harmless to humans and animals. I would replace the willow with another tree or shrub, but only after completely removing the diseased plant, because really your efforts will probably not be able to save it; even if you were able to kill the insects that produced the holes, it is not said that the plant will recover from the damages.