By The Old House Web


Over the past 10 to 15 years, trees and shrubs along major highways in Michigan and other northern states have shown dessication injuries. The damage varies with variety - those plants with sticky, pubescent, or sunken buds appear to be somewhat more tolerant than those plants with smooth, exposed buds. Tolerance to dessication can be attributed to a number of things -- for example, the tolerant evergreens may be protected from injury due to a thick coating of wax on their needles. It is much more difficult to characterize the tolerance nature of deciduous species, as Various deciduous species exhibit a malformation of growth like a witch's broom when injured.

The cause of this injury is the salt spray that splashes or drifts onto roadside trees following highway de-icing operations. Damage is most prominent in urban areas and seems to be linked to more frequent salt applications and to traffic density. The symptoms are most pronounced on sensitive plants close to the highway, but have been observed some 250 feet down wind of the traffic.

Sensitive plants may exhibit injury to a height of 20 to 25 feet, although lower branches protected by snow may escape injury. Depending upon the snow cover, a zone of injury may extend from three to eight feet above the ground to a height of 20 to 25 feet.

Following is a summary of the average salt spray tolerances of various plants bordering selected Michigan highways.

Botanical Name (Common Name) Tolerance ---------------------------------------------------------- Acer campestre (Hedge maple) Moderately tolerant Acer ginnala (Amur maple) Moderately tolerant Acer platanoides (Norway maple) Tolerant Acer rubrum (Red maple) Moderately tolerant Acer saccharinum (Silver maple) Tolerant Acer saccharum nigrum Moderately tolerant (Black maple) Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye) Very tolerant Amelanchier canadensis Tolerant (Juneberry) Cercis canadensis (Redbud) Sensitive Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood) Sensitive Cornus stolonifera Sensitive (Rodosier dogwood) Crataegus crusgalli Moderately tolerant (Cockspur hawthorn) Crataegus monogyna Moderately tolerant (Singleseed hawthorn) Crataegus oxyacantha Sensitive (English hawthorn) Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olive) Tolerant Euonymus alata (Winged) Very tolerant Euonymus europaeus Sensitive (European euonymus) Fraxinus pennsylvanica lanceolata (Green ash) Tolerant Gleditsia triacanthos Tolerant (common honey locust) Hamamelis virginiana Moderately tolerant (common witch-hazel) Ilex verticillata Tolerant (Michigan holly) Juniperus spp. (Juniper) Moderately tolerant Larix laricina (Tamarack) Tolerant Ligustrum spp. (Privet) Moderately tolerant Liriodendron tulipifera Sensitive (Tuliptree) Malus spp. (Crabapple) Sensitive Morus rubra (Red mulberry) Tolerant Nyssa sylvatica (Black gum) Moderately tolerant Picea abies (Norway spruce) Moderately tolerant Picea glauca (White spruce) Sensitive Picea mariana (Black spruce) Sensitive Picea pungens (Colorado spruce) Very tolerant Pinus banksiana (Jack pine) Moderately tolerant Pinus nigra (Austrian pine) Very tolerant Pinus resinosa (Red pine) Sensitive Pinus strobus (E. white pine) Very sensitive Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine) Sensitive Platanus occidentalis Sensitive (American sycamore) Populus deltodies (Cottonwood) Very tolerant Prunus americana(American plum) Sensitive Pseudotsuga taxifolia Tolerant (Douglas fir) Quercus alba (White oak) Sensitive Quercus bicolor(Swamp wht. oak) Sensitive Quercus imbricaria(Shingle oak) Moderately tolerant Quercus palustris (Pin oak) Sensitive Quercus prinus (Chestnut oak) Sensitive Quercus robur (English oak) Sensitive Quercus rubra (Red oak) Sensitive Quercus velutina (Yellow oak) Sensitive Rhamnus spp. (Buckthorn) Tolerant Rhodotypos scandens Very tolerant (Black jetbead) Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac) Tolerant Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac) Tolerant Salix spp. (Willow) Moderately tolerant Sassafras varifolium Sensitive (Silky sassafras) Spiraea vanhouttei Tolerant (Van houtte spirea) Taxus spp. (Yew) Tolerant Thuja occidentalis Sensitive (American arborvitae) Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm) Tolerant Viburnum americanum Tolerant (American cranberry bush) Viburnum dentatum (Arrow wood) Moderately tolerant Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) Moderately tolerant


Harold Davidson, Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State University (Horticulture bulletin HM-95)

Go To Top of File               Main Page for this Data Base

Search Improvement Project