What do you think caused the cracks in this tree and the holes in its leaves?

Hi everyone,

I’m hoping for some help with a weeping cherry. The tree is in Pittsburgh, PA (zone 6b) and the diameter is approximately 10″. The history of the tree is unknown.

There’s a long crack running the entire length of the trunk on the side facing west-southwest, and a shorter crack on the opposite side. There are also small holes in some of the leaves. The tree did not bloom this year. The owners think a late frost may be responsible for the lack of flowers. They say the tree gets a lot of sun.

Weeping Cherry Tree

Weeping Cherry


Long Crack On West-Southwest Side

Large Crack


Long Crack Closeup

Crack Closeup


Shorter Crack On Opposite Side

Short Crack


Holes In Leaves


Is it sun scald / frost crack? A fungal disease? Insects? What would you say caused the cracks, what do you think about the holes, what other issues do you see, and how would you proceed if it were your tree? Please submit your comments below or in the original Trees group discussion thread on LinkedIn. Thank you for your help.

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Jamie is a lifelong tree lover with a passion for nature in all its forms and a desire to help preserve the health of our environment.

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  1. Michael Cieryca says:

    The crack is a frost crack formed on some clear and cold December or January and temperatures in the 20’s or Teens that night. What happens is moisture in the cambium thaws and in the sun and freezes that night. Water expands as it freezes and damage cells in the cambium. The tree compartmentalizes the damage but the crack will continue to get bigger as the trunk diameter naturally expands.
    The small holes are from a fungus, coryneum blight aka “shot-hole”, the damage you see is its normal extent and not a cause for concern.

  2. Shelby24019 says:

    One suggestion I might make is maybe, lighting strike.

  3. Shelby24019 says:

    I have seen trees with lighting strikes and some are similar.

  4. Shear crack and bifurcation crack due to wind loads?

  5. Reduction trimming is over due.
    Wind damage occurred and then ice formed in a crack. It proceeded to thaw and reform causing the crack to continue. This has exposed sap and insects are now drawing to it.
    Sorry it’s done. Cut it down. It’s just drawing insects to the house.

  6. I have seen these cracks heal over, and the insect damage is minimal. The tree looks very healthy overall so I would suggest thinning the canopy, you could spray for recurring pests, if necessary, fertilize in fall and see what happens! If it starts to decline, you already know why!! Oh and stop shearing the shrubs- it’s awful!!

  7. Eric Berg says:

    I think this is a stress/shear crack caused from loading on the branches, several of which occur in a very tight / small area causing high loading on the trunk during wind events. The small crack on the opposite side supports this idea. Reduction pruning is needed to keep the tree for a while longer – but if it were in my yard I would get a replacement started : )

  8. Looks very much like frost crack on a grafted cherry

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