Tree Topping:  big AR willow oaks   Don Bragg
  May 09, 2005 10:04 PDT 

Willow oaks are popular plantings in town squares and around courthouses because of their fast growth, beautiful, dense, spreading foliage, and pretty yellow fall colors. Unfortunately in Arkansas, we have had a recent spate of over-zealous city employees "topping" the branches and either damaging or destroying the trees. The practice of topping was much more common in Utah than I've seen it elsewhere, yet I have started to see more and more of it here in the South. I have never heard a trained arborist speak well of the practice, yet it is far more common that it should be...I guess one doesn't need to be a certified arborist to top a tree, but the word needs to get out how poor of a practice this is (they're not removing damaged or hazardous limbs, just trying to make a "lollipop tree").

Don Bragg
Re: big AR willow oaks   Will Blozan
  May 09, 2005 14:47 PDT 


Have you ever been to Western NC? Topping is the "socially acceptable"
practice here. I HATE it! So many awesome trees destroyed for no reason.

Will B
Re: big AR willow oaks
  May 11, 2005 04:10 PDT 
Don and Will:

In WV tree topping is a severe problem and some of the most spectacular
shade trees I have ever seen have been killed by topping.........Imagine a 14'
CBH 100+ year old white oak shade tree topped with no branches smaller than 6" died. Topping is like shooting someone in the head because
they are too smart!

Russ Richardson
Tree topping and questions to Russ   Robert Leverett
  May 11, 2005 05:14 PDT 


   In my not so humble opinion, topping is just another lame
manifestation of the arrogance of our species trying to communicate in
every way to the universe that the only real priorities should be our
priorities. Our species wants to wish itself into a state of total
dominance over all other life forms and natural processes. Holding power
over other life forms in the crudest ways, e.g. killing/exterminating,
whether suddenly or gradually seems to be a method we use to reinforce
our power and dominance.    

   My daughter lives in South Weber, Utah and out there topping of trees
is epidemic. The bizarre is the commonplace. The results may have
aesthetic value in the eyes of some of the beholders, but in actual
practice it has more to do with following your neighbors lead.

   Did you ever get yourself a laser rangefinder? We need more input
from West Virginia. Any trips planned for Massachusetts in the near
future? Any interest in being a speaker at the October 13-14 Forest
Summit? The theme is forest visions and you've often expressed
compelling views of a different mix of forest activities.

RE: big AR willow oaks   Darian Copiz
  May 11, 2005 06:57 PDT 
WOW!, someone topped a 14' cbh white oak? That IS pretty bad. From
what I have seen the sort of trees that are often topped are things like
Norway maples so I frequently don't mind all that much, but a big oak -
ouch. Great analogy about shooting someone in the head because they're
too smart, I'll have to remember that one. I read up on the Society of
Municipal Arborists listserve also, and they are all against the
practice - so they shouldn't be the ones doing it. I think some people
may be attempting to pollard their trees as is frequently done in
Europe, however their attempts usually don't come near to being
successful for what I think is another questionable practice. It is
easy to understand why various practices are done though, when there are
so many different opinions and misconceptions about trees.