Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Tree Risk Assessment

Q: Should we be worried if one of three main trunks breaks off a sweet gum tree?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016  

One of the three main trunks of my 60-70 ft. sweet gum tree broke on a windy day and barely missed coming down on my roof. Should the tree be taken down to avoid possible disaster in the future? I live in Central Florida, and we have occasional high wind events. I've head that sweet gums can be fragile.

A: You are right to be concerned about your sweet gum tree. Because it is multi-leadered (three main stems/trunks), it has a weaker growth form in general than single leader trees. With one leader breaking off, the tree is likely structurally unbalanced and more susceptible to future wind damages.

Inspection of your tree by a Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist would be a recommended next step to help decide if the tree could be pruned and remain in your landscape or should be removed due to the extent of damage. Sweet gum is considered moderately wind resistant, but being multi-leader, is usually less wind resistant. Thank you for your email, and we hope this helps you in your decisions.


Responder: John Harris, RCA #468, Hollywood, FL