Is this tree dead?

BackstreetZAFU

New Member
Hi everyone,

This tree is in my front yard. It's got a big hole in the trunk, but the branches and the leaves are spectacular. Is it dead? Alive? Saveable? A dead tree just came down in our yard, so I'm wondering if this needs to come down too.

Thanks very much for your help!

-matt

IMG_0337.JPG
 

flyingsquirrel25

Well-Known Member
Not much to go on with a picture of the truck. I see decay, but no indication of tree health or vitality (over all crown picture). There is a difference between live and dead and structurally un sound.
 

BackstreetZAFU

New Member
Not much to go on with a picture of the truck. I see decay, but no indication of tree health or vitality (over all crown picture). There is a difference between live and dead and structurally un sound.
It's dark here now, but I can take some more pictures tomorrow.

What would you need pictures of to help with the ID? Leaves? Branches? Etc., I'm guessing.

I can upload some here tomorrow.

Thanks for your help!
matt
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Get a probe (screw driver works well enough) and stick it into that exposed wood in several spots. How far does it go in? Especially at the base. From that picture, looks like it might be more rotted down there...

Even if it goes in far, that is not an automatic diagnosis of a tree that is going to fail...but it does provide another bit of information.

At some point, it may well be the best advice to hire somebody to come out to have a look in person. You want to hire somebody who does consulting and/or diagnostics. If just have somebody who does nothing but removals and are asking for a quote and whether or not the tree should stay, I can already give you their answer (without seeing the tree).
 

BackstreetZAFU

New Member
Here are some more pictures.

The screwdriver went in basically all the way. I'm guessing that's not good...

I can try to get some more tomorrow when it's light out, too.

If it is rotted at the base, is there any hope of saving it? Maybe bracing it somehow, or something like that?

Thanks again for your help!
-matt
 

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colb

Well-Known Member
What are the consequences if it is dead, or structurally compromised? Does it have the potential to hit a high occupancy or high value target?
 
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cerviarborist

Very stable member
Let's see the entire tree from a distance, from 4 compass points. This is like looking at an elephant through a knothole in a fence at close range.

Also the tree seems to have put on a beam of pretty respectable reaction wood on the right side of the cavity..possibly on the left as well. A day light photo might give more detail.
 

BackstreetZAFU

New Member
I've attached some more pictures (two posts, ten picture limit), taken from various angles. I marked the tree in question with a red dot.

I've also attached some pictures of the cavity, what's inside it, etc. Hopefully I got enough. If not, please let me know.

To answer colb's question, it's far in the front yard, so it's not near a house. It's near the road, and some cable/telephone lines. But that's it.

Like I said in my initial post, I think it looks great...everywhere except the trunk (which, I'm guessing, is the most important part).

Thanks for your help! Loved the elephant analogy.

-matt
 

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colb

Well-Known Member
The maple has good wound wood response growth, so it is okay structurally. Looks like one leader is dead, so a dead wood pruning would be nice but not necessary. Most importantly, uncover the root flare back to the original grade. Keep the same foot print mulched.

Do the same to the tree on the other side of the driveway. Have that other tree evaluated by an arborist for direction of the lean. If one or more branches on the bottom forks can hit a target (e.g. house), ask the arborist about a dynamic cabling and bracing installation.

Plant replacement trees for both, now, so that they can grow up large enough to take the place of the current two by the time they decline (in the case of the maple), break (in the case of the other tree), or you're ready to move forward with properly managed trees. Like the current trees, give the newly-planted trees a mulched zone for health and to avoid lawn maintenance damage.
 

BackstreetZAFU

New Member
I'll have to look up a few of those terms, but THANK YOU!

I have an arborist coming to take a look on Wednesday. I'll definitely mention this diagnosis.

Thanks again!
-matt
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
What he said, not a good idea to bury above ground bark. Also it’s good to think of the trunk of a tree like the foundation of a building. If the foundation isn’t that strong it limits how high the building should go, so some canopy reduction to reduce lever forces and sail would be beneficial. The fall season is the ideal time to do major structural work, so now is a good time to look for a good arborist or orchardist to do the work. I would advise the power lines be cleared of rubbing branches and if that can’t be done then spiral plastic wear sleeve should be wrapped around the wires. Constant rubbing will eventually saw through the wires sheathing and or carrier wire.
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
Also, to add to your understanding. The tree can snap and lay over on its side and if the outer cambium layer is still attached to the roots the tree can be alive! That is if enough of the cambium is attached. I have a willow that was blown over in a strong wind last year and we cut most of it away. The tree is happier than ever.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
@colb .... You would really cable the Robinia? Unless there is a bad angle at the points of connection, I wouldn't be too concerned - not enough to cable it. Maybe reduce some weight off of that one end.

As for the original tree, I agree that the response growth (the new wood that has grown since the wound happened) looks good. That wood is stronger than "normal" wood as the tree is preparing for the impending loss of strength.

The worst of the pictures is 1214. That looks like it could be Kretzschmaria. This is one of the more aggressive wood decay fungi and can move into that good looking response wood moreso than others. It is generally an indication of significant strength loss (or the impending loss of strength).

I'd probe all around the base a little more into the soil to see if there is good anchoring. There won't be right where that wound is....but are there good roots everywhere else?

As others have alluded to, but didn't spell out specifically: take down those boards around the mulch. Rake the mulch (and probably some soil) away so what is currently build up is even with grade. Then put 2-3" of mulch over that foot print (or larger is better), but pull it away from the trunk.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Big picture...is that tree in good shape in 20 years? Probably not. Is there some enjoyment to be had now? Yes. Balance those 2 and decide: do you replace the tree now so you have a great tree in 20 years, or do you enjoy that tree for as long as you can? That is your call. If it were a huge older tree, etc... I'd personally lead more towards keeping it as long as possible.
 

Stephen Moore

Well-Known Member
@colb .... You would really cable the Robinia? Unless there is a bad angle at the points of connection, I wouldn't be too concerned - not enough to cable it. Maybe reduce some weight off of that one end.

As for the original tree, I agree that the response growth (the new wood that has grown since the wound happened) looks good. That wood is stronger than "normal" wood as the tree is preparing for the impending loss of strength.

The worst of the pictures is 1214. That looks like it could be Kretzschmaria. This is one of the more aggressive wood decay fungi and can move into that good looking response wood moreso than others. It is generally an indication of significant strength loss (or the impending loss of strength).

I'd probe all around the base a little more into the soil to see if there is good anchoring. There won't be right where that wound is....but are there good roots everywhere else?

As others have alluded to, but didn't spell out specifically: take down those boards around the mulch. Rake the mulch (and probably some soil) away so what is currently build up is even with grade. Then put 2-3" of mulch over that foot print (or larger is better), but pull it away from the trunk.
Yes the soil in the boxes is doing nothing to feed or support the tree and everything to rot the bark and promote additional decay. The drip line is the area around the perimeter of the canopy and is typically where all the root business is conducted.
 
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JD3000

Most well-known member
Not true. The root flair and adjacent is packed with roots. It's why basal pesticede and fertilizer apps are quite effective.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
@colb .... You would really cable the Robinia? Unless there is a bad angle at the points of connection, I wouldn't be too concerned - not enough to cable it. Maybe reduce some weight off of that one end.

As for the original tree, I agree that the response growth (the new wood that has grown since the wound happened) looks good. That wood is stronger than "normal" wood as the tree is preparing for the impending loss of strength.

The worst of the pictures is 1214. That looks like it could be Kretzschmaria. This is one of the more aggressive wood decay fungi and can move into that good looking response wood moreso than others. It is generally an indication of significant strength loss (or the impending loss of strength).

I'd probe all around the base a little more into the soil to see if there is good anchoring. There won't be right where that wound is....but are there good roots everywhere else?

As others have alluded to, but didn't spell out specifically: take down those boards around the mulch. Rake the mulch (and probably some soil) away so what is currently build up is even with grade. Then put 2-3" of mulch over that foot print (or larger is better), but pull it away from the trunk.
I really have minimal contact with Robinia. I did notice two low junctions that I'm suspicious are acute, but the photo does not provide the correct angle to evaluate it. I also cannot tell the size of the tree from the picture, its direction of lean, or location of targets. These tidbits led me to recommend that an (local) arborist look at it on site. I still think that is the best course of action.
 
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ATH

Well-Known Member
Yes the soil in the boxes is doing nothing to feed or support the tree and everything to rot the bark and promote additional decay. The drip line is the area around the perimeter of the canopy and is typically where all the root business is conducted.
Not true. The root flair and adjacent is packed with roots. It's why basal pesticede and fertilizer apps are quite effective.
I think @Stephen Moore means the excess soil in the box - that which is built above grade. That is detrimental. The zone right around the tree is very important rooting zone which is why we are suggesting improving that area. (I know you know this JD...spelling it out for the OP).
 

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