Am I Safe From My Trees – Part Three

2.05 – TREE TRUNK:

Inspect the lower main tree trunk moving from the root flare or buttress of the tree up the main trunk. Be looking for clues such as cavities or hollows. Is the trunk oozing or discolored? Look to see if there is any scar tissue growth around the base known as wound wood. Are any mushrooms present which always indicates that there is decay present. Are there any cracks in the tree trunk? Is the bark intact or falling off? Does the tree trunk have a taper meaning does it get smaller in diameter from the ground up, or from the base of the tree stems to the outer ends does it taper down in diameter? Good trunk taper makes for stronger trees. No trunk taper can be a red flag. Make sure the trunk only has one main trunk and if it has more than one how do the attachment points look between the trunks?


Moving up the main trunk you start seeing either limbs off the side of the trunk or the trunk can also actually have more than one main trunk which is known as co-dominant trunks meaning more than one main trunk fighting for dominance with each other. Either way check all attachment points between tree parts weather it be between codominant trunks or limb to trunk attachment points. A weak union or branch attachment occurs when two or more similarly sized branches grow so closely together that bark grows between the branches inside the union of attachment creating “included bark.” A generic way to describe this idea is that a “V” shape connection is bad. A “U” shape is best. This is more easily explained face to face but if there is a “V” shape between the two tree parts it means there is a bad attachment that is known to be weak and limited on time before it breaks. A “U” shape is typically desired because that means that the tree formed a normal branch to trunk attachment with overlapping wood fibers making a much stronger locking system than a “V” shape with Included Bark. There can be options for these situations so consult with a qualified certified arborist.

2.07 – DEAD LIMBS:

At this point your focus has moved from the lower part of the tree to the mid canopy which tends to be where dead limbs accumulate. Don’t worry, these lower dead limbs are not always cause for concern. It is relatively normal for lower limbs to break off leaving dead limbs. The lower limbs are the older limbs and they gain length, weight, and age meaning decay has had more time to set in. So, trees break at decayed areas and when limbs rub together like lower limbs do to each other they tend to break off. These lower limbs also tend to not get as much sunlight in a canopy interior or a wooded environment so all of these strikes against the lower limbs means don’t sweat the lower dead limbs on the interior of the tree too much unless there is a target underneath. A tree that has these dead limbs pruned out will appear to be a healthier tree just because it is clean. Now if there are dead limbs in the upper outer canopy and peppered throughout the tree canopy then there is a health issue going on that has been going on for a long time. A tree responds very slowly and is slow to show the damage incurred from health issues or root loss or even just plain old age. But if you have dead limbs and twigs in the outer most part of your tree(s) then call a licensed certified arborist. Pruning dead limbs out of trees can be beneficial because it aids in making the tree’s healing and recover process shorter. If you have a tree with an abundance of dead limbs in it go ahead and call a certified arborist.