Ask a Question forum: Beech trouble, rotten?

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greatel
Oct 8, 2017 2:34 PM CST
Hi, I recently purchased a house with a large beech tree a few feet from the entrance. There is what seems a low rotten branch with a bird house in it. All the wood in that 'branch' is rotten. Parts came off easily, and i could see several species of worms in there, but it's hard to see where the rot ends as it's hard to get it off closer to the trunk. Similar rotten spot is behind tree. Tree looks very healthy if it wasn't for this. Is it a dangerous tree to keep?
Thanks
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 8, 2017 4:41 PM CST
Welcome!

It looks like an old rotten spot that is slowly healing over. I think I see the rounded edges of new bark growth around the bad spot. If that is not your 4-year old's wheelbarrow, that is a big tree. The other spots look like regular bark to me.

The tree is probably healthy or it wouldn't be healing itself. The outside of a tree is the 'alive' part that transfers nutrients and moisture between the roots and the canopy. If the tree was not doing this efficiently, there would be a dead stripe up that side of the tree - all the branches and leaves directly above the rot would be dead. As you didn't mention that, I suspect the entire canopy looks healthy.

The hardwood center of the tree is what holds it up and the center of your tree is rotten. Some species of trees (Oaks for one) are good at containing the rot and it never affects the health of the tree - eventually, there is a hollow cavity. I don't know if Beech trees do that. Also, trees grow thicker bark on either side of a wound that act like posts to help support the tree.

Personally, if its in an area where you will be quite a bit of the time or near your house, I would ask a certified arborist to take a look at it. It may be perfectly healthy and destined to grace your entrance for years to come. Or it may be an accident waiting to happen. If you do decide to remove the tree, get a professional. Hollow trees don't behave properly when they fall - they collapse in the wrong direction and sometimes simply explode when the chainsaw hits hollow cavities.



Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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greatel
Oct 8, 2017 6:45 PM CST
Daisyl thank you for the response. Yes canopy is healty, a very small branch is dead above it and it might not be related (lower part of the canopy with dark drown leaves in the photo).
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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 8, 2017 10:51 PM CST
When I moved into my house 30 years ago, there was a tulip polar that was damaged. At least a 5' tall section was debarked.

Over the years, I watched it gradually heal the damage. Today, you can't tell it was ever injured.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 9, 2017 7:52 AM CST
While trees will continue to grow with a hollow cavity, they are likely to be weaker than a solid core tree.

Of greater concern....
I'd pick a leader and cut one.
Sadly, the damage seems to be on the largest prettiest leader....

Those forked trees really aren't what I would want near the house.

Also...
Are you responsible for limbing up the tree?

I think that was a bit much....
Weakens the structure.

While its nice to be able to walk under a tree that is in the main traffic area.... It's kinda important to keep as much of the canopy as practical.

On most of the pictures, the rot I see is from where a leader was cut back, but not far back enough.

When pruning, it's a good idea to cut back to the collar.
That wood sticking out.... Can be pruned off.
Of course.... There seem to be woodland critters that are using the dead wood.... Might want to leave it alone as habitat.
[Last edited by stone - Oct 9, 2017 8:04 AM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Oct 9, 2017 9:26 AM CST
It dosent look good to me. A hack job. I bet an arborist would tell you : Cut her down and plant anew !
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Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 9, 2017 1:50 PM CST
Solid core trees are stronger than trees with hollow spots. But the tree makes up for the hollow core by growing thicker bark on the edges of holes, thus creating a 'post' system that supports the tree.

Trees with double trunks are not necessarily going to be weaker. It depends upon the split. Your tree trunks are very close together - the bigger the angle, the more likely the tree is to fall. It also depends upon what holds the two trunks together. If its just bark, the tree will break apart.

Beech trees are known for their cavities, many times formed when a branch is broken or cut off. If you cut down every beech with a cavity, there may not be a lot left.

Check with a Certified Arborist if you are concerned. Otherwise, enjoy your tree.

BTW: Don't use a tree company as your 'expert' as they get paid for cutting trees down. We had a tree company go through our neighborhood once and patiently explain to everyone who would listen that the redwoods trees were a danger to our homes because the trees had double trunks. They got a lot of takers and there were a lot of disfigured redwoods in the neighborhood after that. BUT almost all redwoods, somewhere in their lives, split.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
CT
greatel
Oct 14, 2017 10:33 PM CST
Thank you all for the responses. As recommended by many, we called the arborist that came today to take a look at the tree and to our relief said there is nothing wrong with it and that the rotten part is of no concern. Very glad we can keep it!

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