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The Sissoo Tree (Indian Rosewood)

The Sissoo tree is ubiquitous in Phoenix. You drive past several of them on your way to work, whether or not you ever noticed. It is a favorite of homeowners and business owners for its beautiful flowers, unique bark shape and texture, and year-round shade. Sissoo trees are also resilient trees, able to survive in harsh environments such as parking lots and the mediums of busy roads. The Sissoo tree, also known as the Indian Rosewood tree, Is prevalent for several important reasons.

First, the non-allergenic sissoo tree offers a lot of natural shade. Thanks to its dense, leathery, oval leaves, it can tolerate Arizona's intense sun very well and provide a much cooler, more enjoyable yard.

Sissoo trees are very fast-growing, averaging 2 feet of annual growth. This makes them perfect for people wanting to create a natural hedge for privacy or lowering their energy costs by blocking the sun. Business owners love them because they cover areas in large amounts of shade. No matter why you want to plant the Sissoo tree, its fast growth rate enables it to achieve its landscaping purpose.

Second, Sissoo trees have excellent drought tolerance and often thrive in nutrient-deficient Arizona soil. The Sissoo tree naturally grows near river banks and washes. The roots of this tree are known to spread exceptionally far in the search for water. They also dig deep into the earth to tap into natural wells beneath it. The roots of this tree enable it to survive in almost any condition. However, these roots will work so hard to support the tree that they will grow beneath walls and foundations and have been known to destroy sidewalks and other structures. Even if the tree is removed, it is a common problem for the roots to continue growing and sending sprouts up to try to save the tree. Often a professional tree removal company will be required to remove the tree and poison the stump and roots or remove them altogether. All that being said, if you tend to kill plants, the sissoo tree may be the perfect option for you.

How to Spot a Sissoo Tree:

Sissoo trees are most recognizable by their unique crooked trunks and light brown shaggy bark. They also have a notably dark green color compared to the lighter green-brown leaves on many of the native plants in Arizona. The Sissoo tree can grow up to 60 feet tall and have a spread of 30 to 40 feet wide with a trunk up to 6 feet in diameter, but they usually do not grow to this size. When allowed to grow wild, trunks can become crooked or twisted in appearance.

Taking Care of Your Sissoo Tree

Sissoo Trees are great for first-time tree owners because they do not require much other maintenance as long as they get the right amount of water. Choose a spot with lots of sun or partial sun for your sissoo tree. Water regularly, saturating the soil deeply to help promote healthy roots and foliage. Regular watering is crucial when the tree is first planted and during the hot summer months. Consider adding soil treatments that include magnesium, as this will reduce chlorosis(Yellowing leaves, often due to lack of magnesium). Some pruning can be beneficial to keep low-lying branches from hanging on the ground as the tree grows.

When to Call an Arborist:

For Regular Trimming:

The best time to trim the Sissoo tree here in Phoenix is in the summertime before the monsoon hits. Usually, between May and the beginning of August. This is also a great time to ensure your irrigation is still performing at its peak during the most challenging summer months. Have an arborist take a look at the tree before trimming. They can tell if the tree has anything else going on that would put it at risk during trimming. Trimming is hard on a tree, much like surgery for a person. Any other health conditions afflicting the tree during the trim could cause even more issues. An arborist can also tell if the soil still has all the proper nutrients to support the trees and other plants in the landscape.

If you see these warning signs:

Yellow Leaves

Yellow or browning leaves can be a sign of several different issues. First, your sissoo tree is evergreen, meaning it should stay green all year. You should call an arborist immediately if you notice excessive leaves turning yellow or brown. Hopefully, it will be something as simple as a nutrient deficiency in the soil, which can be solved by simply amending the soil with more nutrients such as iron and magnesium.

Sparse Leaves

Sissoo trees are far more drought-tolerant than the average tree. That being said, Arizona is one of the hottest places in the country; only our native desert trees can survive on rainwater alone. If you notice sparse leaves on your tree instead of the thick, lush canopy for which the Sissoo is known, it is likely a sign that the tree is not getting enough water. Making sure your tree gets enough water can take time and effort. You'll want to water it slowly, so the ground has time to soak it all up. You should also water the Sissoo tree whenever the ground around it is completely dry, six inches below the ground. Depending on the season, the time between watering will vary.

Brown-Tipped Leaves

Leaves that are browning could also be a sign of a lack of water. It could also mean that a more significant problem is happening with the tree. The best action is to call an arborist to inspect the tree as soon as possible. An Arborist will diagnose precisely what is going on and provide a plan of action to get the tree back to total health as quickly as possible.

Pests, Sap, and Unusual Growths

Pests and large growths in any tree are usually a sign of a more significant problem with a tree. Pests often attack trees that already had a prior condition weakening their defenses. Growths that look like knots or sores on a tree are also signs of something larger happening inside the tree. The growth you see is often the result of the tree trying to defend itself from infection. In either case, the best thing to do is to call an arborist so they can diagnose what is happening more accurately. In the case of pests, this needs to be done immediately because insects can significantly harm the tree.

The Sissoo tree is known for being a very easy-to-manage, very hardy tree. It provides ample shade and is beautiful to look at. It will be a great addition to any yard if it gets enough water here in Arizona. If you are thinking about planting the sissoo tree, contact an arborist to help you choose an appropriate place to allow this tree and its roots to flourish.


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