Sunday, November 25, 2012

Structural Root Decay: Another Reason to not be a Fan of High Nitrogen Fertilization

While browsing through Fungal Strategies of Wood Decay in Trees by Schwartze, Engels, and Mattheck, I came across an interesting piece of information.  The authors state decay progresses faster in wood with higher concentrations of nitrogen (N).  They then imply a correlation between high N fertilization and increased amount N in structural roots.  If these hold true applying fertilizers high in N, like many commercial tree and lawn companies, will actually speed up wood degradation by fungal decay agents and increase the risk of tree failure.

Now in cases where known root decay is present but not at the point where removal is considered necessary, some tree managers will recommend tree fertilization in an attempt to out grow, or at least stay pace with, the decay.  If the proper fertilizer analysis is not recommended we may actually be speeding up the decay process.  Custom fertilizing based upon the results of a soil sample is really the best practice when specific tree health goals are priority.

Mmmm nitrogen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lint Bug: The Aphid Wolf

Have you ever seen a lint bug?  Up until a few months ago I thought they were inconsequential, but cute,  little insects living on tree trunks.  I never really thought about what they ate, or their role in the ecosystem.

While doing research for another assignment I came across an article about lint bugs, and found they are brown lacewing larva.  As many of us know, green lace wing larva are voracious predators of many arthropod plant pests, and so are the larva of their brown winged cousins.  One web-site even referred to them as Aphid Wolfs.  They carry debris on their back for camouflage, and interestingly enough, some of that debris is actually body parts from their victims.  I might have a new favorite insect.

That gray pile of debris is a lint bug in a sea of  gloomy scale.

I snagged this close up picture from

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Red Maples: What a Bummer

By some twist of arboricultural fate I was charged with doing an 800 tree inventory this past week.  About 60% of the trees were.... you guessed it red maples.  Of these not one was with out co-dominate stems combined with some kind of defect.  Be it girdling roots, buried root collar, gloomy scale, or all of thee above.  Lets take a pictorial look at the mayhem.

So many co-dominate stems all coming from the same area on the tree.

A crack in the stem originating from co-dominate stems and leading almost to the ground.

Gloomy scales piled upon gloomy scales feeding upon there victim.

More sever cracks originating from co-dominate stems.

Of course a pictorial account of red maple defects would not be complete with out some impacted stem girdling roots.

Multiple upright branches with associated storm damage.
Left unattended since planting, these trees have become a maintenance nightmare.  Young tree pruning and proper planting are paramount, and this tree inventory is a prime argument.  To correctly mend these issues this home owners association will be looking at more than a $50,000 price tag.  Red maples, what a bummer right?