Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: Dead tree has long 2-inch-deep splits in its branches and trunk. What happened?

Thursday, February 25, 2016  

Q: The tree had purple flowers at one time, but it has died, and I see long splits about 2 inches deep the full length of the branches. It was about 10 feet tall and 5 inches in diameter at the ground, and the branches were around 2 and 3 inches in diameter. Can you tell me what happened? Thanks

A: There is an old saying, "dead dogs tell no tales."  This is to say that there are many possible causes for your tree dying. After it has died, any pathogens would also die or be overcome by saprophytes.  Once it has died, it dries out and splits, and the roots begin to rot. Your message doesn't tell me if it split before or after dying or how long ago it flowered.  A 5-inch diameter tree can dry up more quickly, and the years of drought may have led to this or not.  If it is important to you to find the cause of death, we would need more history and details and an onsite inspection of what's remaining.

 

Responder: Greg Applegate, RCA #365, Tustin, CA