16, 2005 06:03 PST
When I do find a new tree, or measure an old one, on private
property, a lot of the time people ask "what should I
do?" I tell them to do nothing. The tree has been there a
lot longer than you have, without help. I don't think people are
caring for the old trees as much as you think. It is a very
expensive endeavor. Where I work, we have a 62" diameter
copper beech that is in decline. The tree means a lot to the
owners, and they have put over 15k into it over four years.
Guess what, still declining.
inadvertently kill trees, but it takes a long time for a big
tree to die. We have one white oak that was over 100 years old
in 1961, when they improved the road near it, and buried it in
26" of soil. It died last year some 40+ years later. I did
dig it out, but it was too late. I lost a 187 year old black oak
this year (ring count) and all I can figure is that the sewer
line that was put in in the 70's was the culprit. On this same
line we lost a white oak, and there is a tulip that is fading
fast. The line goes through the root zones of all three trees.
The only thing I am considering for the tulip is CAMBISTAT. I
have never used it though, and it is expensive. This post
relates to someone saying that the trees on private property
were better cared for earlier. I don't think they are.
16, 2005 06:55 PST
I'm glad you brought this up because it touches on something
that I have
come to form a personal opinion on. It is my theory that often
our efforts to save trees actually hasten their demise. I think
over fertilizing can be one problem, but the thing I have the
issue with is tree cabling. I have brought this up on the
Municipal Arborists listserve before. I was assured that cabling
done in a manner to allow the tree to flex in the wind.
This may be
true to an extent, but honestly, I don't believe it. I think
makes a tree a much more rigid structure and prevents it from
it's maximum potential. Instead of individual branches moving
independently the way they have adapted to over decades or even
centuries, they are confined into a movement that the arborist
determined. I think this makes the tree more susceptible to
the entire tree rather than one or two branches. This theory was
partially formed based on the recent frequency of highly cabled
It is my
opinion that trees can take care of themselves
better than we can (mitigating circumstances being an
Furthermore, I'd rather see a tree die with dignity than be
like a marionette. This is not an attack on arborists, just a
questioning of a practice. What are people's thoughts on this?
16, 2005 09:31 PST
You have raised an important topic. I have
mixed emotions when I see
cabling, wondering if we are trying to stave off the inevitable
have an isolated tree serve as either a big tree or historical
don't know. It is certainly worth a full ENTS discussion.
16, 2005 10:10 PST
You are lucky, as I have alot of thoughts on this! Cabling can
be overdone, as in the Wye oak in Md. They say that it may have
had something to do with the entire tree toppling, instead of
shedding a major branch. Cabling is supposed to be done so that
there is a little slack in the cable. This is the current
feeling. They used to make them tight. Most cables are probably
installed incorrectly, but the biggest problem I see, is
maintenance of the cable system. You cannot install a cable
system and forget about it, just like lightning protection. It
should be updated every five years or so as the tree grows. We
have a few trees cabled here, but it is more for liability's
sake. (Showing that you did something to prevent something else)
Trees naturally shed branches in the woods, but the habit is
drastically different too. open grown trees grow in an unnatural
form compared to forest trees, and we try to live under them, so
we cable them. Keep in mind also that arboriculture is a
business. They are out to sell product and service, and the fear
of a limb coming off is usually enough for a customer to say Ok.
Most trees are best left alone.
16, 2005 10:14 PST
Another thing that gets me are the Oriental style crutches
people put on trees. Longwood gardens has a big old Mulberry
that is held up with three or four of them. I have seen them on
other trees too. The Lacrosse, or Lansdowne sycamore has one and
so does the weeping beech in West Chester Pa. I do think they
are efforts to maintain a champion, but also a human need to
preserve things for as long as you can.