Ask a Question forum: What causes a tree to do this?

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Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
Apr 7, 2015 3:31 PM CST
This is an oak tree of my neighbors. Two yrs ago I had a tree crash into this one and it leaned on this one for at least 2 months. It was perfectly fine before this so I didn't know if my tree somehow injured it or not.
Thumb of 2015-04-07/Kabby/14d205

Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Apr 7, 2015 4:06 PM CST
A tree can indeed do this in an effort to save itself from injury or disease. It's a widespread occurrence among Ash trees here, since we're deep in Emerald Ash Borer territory.

Here's more information -

http://www.treeweaverarborist.com/blog/
http://www.oakwilt.com/treedecline.html

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Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Apr 7, 2015 4:55 PM CST
@chelle you rock! Epicormic growth, never heard of such a thing. These extra branches could also be considered suckers. Thanks chelle. Hurray!
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Apr 7, 2015 5:31 PM CST
You're welcome. Smiling
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Apr 7, 2015 6:33 PM CST
Kabby said: These extra branches could also be considered suckers


Actually, no. That article is incorrect, technically speaking. Suckers originate from below the soil surface, water sprouts from above. Both are from adventitious buds, so are not well anchored to the rest of the tree. Water sprouts especially, will have a greater tendency to break off in storms.



Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Apr 8, 2015 3:57 AM CST
How can you keep a tree from forming water sprouts and suckers? I am having a problem with some young trees.
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Apr 8, 2015 8:04 AM CST
For some trees, water sprouts and especially suckers are normal in their life. But no matter what the plant, they will be encouraged by tissue damage or plant stresses. This is another reason why pruning with correctly sized and sharp pruning tools is so important. While the end result of even correct pruning is positive, it still damages the tree. But a smooth, clean cut done correctly is far less damaging than a ratted cut, or just being broken off.

There are a few "stop suckers" chemical treatments on the market, but I don't know how they work or even if they work, so I can't comment.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 8, 2015 8:32 AM CST
Years ago I was taught that overly-heavy pruning, especially in spring or summer, encourages epicormic growth. That certainly appeared to be the case with an ornamental crabapple that was "pruned" locally, it responded by sending out a large number of watersprouts. From what I've read it likely has to do with changes in the level of light, such as from this type of heavy pruning, or a nearby tree falling down and letting in more light.

It looks like in the picture of the oak there is also a vertical crack in the trunk in the area of the watersprouts??
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Apr 8, 2015 2:08 PM CST
Hey Sue B!!
Okay let me post a few more pics.

Thumb of 2015-04-08/Kabby/3ec1f7
This is the day after the storm. The tree service had to remove all the limbs on the left side of the tree due to damage. It definitely looks strange with all normal limbs on the right side.

Thumb of 2015-04-08/Kabby/e455f1
Sue this is a close up of the vertical line.
Thumb of 2015-04-08/Kabby/cd599d
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 9, 2015 6:16 AM CST
Hey Kabby Smiling Poor tree. Is the crack on the south-west side of the tree by chance?
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Apr 9, 2015 6:49 AM CST
It's on the south side Sue.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 9, 2015 7:59 AM CST
Typically we think of frost cracks or sunscald when the crack is on the south or south-west side. Whether that's the case here I wouldn't know and I'm a generalist not an arborist. I read an interesting article a while back that suggests frost cracks and sunscald may not be quite what they seem to be (the PDF jumps a bit between pages so one has to scroll past an intervening article to read the whole thing:

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/UrbanForests/documents/VOL10NO3.PDF
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Apr 9, 2015 8:06 AM CST
The tree is probably in a rush to shade its bark on the newly sheared sunny side, and is just throwing up leaf-bearing shoots wherever it can, but that's just my take on it...I'm no expert either.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Image
chelle
Apr 9, 2015 8:08 AM CST
I'd meant to add that the extra info given has really been helpful, Kabby. Thanks!
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Apr 9, 2015 11:23 AM CST
Sue, the Wisconsin DNR link was very enlightening, since it goes beyond the basic "what is" answer for frost cracks and sunscald. Thanks!

It's unlikely that the crack you show, Kabby, is a frost crack. The physical force that causes frost cracks would have pulled the bark much farther apart. More likely it is caused by some defect or infection under the bark and the normal pull/pressure forces present in any tree. (That's why the crack has not widened.)

Chelle, I don't want to poo poo your effort to find possible explanations: few people take the time, or even know how to think outside the box (or even inside the box, for that matter). You deserve kudos for that. However, I am going to shoot down your shading theory of the epicormic growth.

Bark that is that old and thick would be sufficient protection from frost cracking on its own. Even if one were to assign an intelligence to the tee to "hurry up and protect the trunk with shade", an evolutionary path to back up such a theory is lacking. And it probably doesn't get that cold in Alabama, anyway(?). More likely, the sudden difference in light trigger adventitious growth from under the bark layer, and/or possibly some other stress as mentioned earlier. The rush of growth, relative to the canopy growth is due to the presence of several factors, including the convergence of optimal conditions: lots of light with a relatively protected and more favorable environment, an unlimited supply of water and nutrients and the faster, vigorous growth that comes with the juvenile growth that they are. (Normal canopy growth is always mature growth.)
But Chelle, if sunscald were a possibility (on thin bark) then your shading theory could have merit.

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