Sunday, June 9, 2013

Who blew it!

Golf course managers are good at managing grass, not trees.  Somehow I ended up playing golf in Miffiin, PA a few weeks ago.  Now, I'm not much of a golfer, but any excuse to be outside in one of the picturesque Central Pennsylvania valleys is a good one.  By about the 3rd hole I started noticing most of the spruces where leaning in the leeward direction.  They had been in this position for awhile, as self corrected leans were evident.

When trees are subjected to a constant force they begin developing reaction wood.  In the case of these neglected golf course spruces, structural roots on the windward side (tension side) of the trees were predominate.  These trees were left to topple over, but refused to give in.

When assessing a tree's risk for failure we must take an in-depth look at the tree.  From a peripheral view, most of the spruce trees on this course looked like they were ready to fail at any moment.  However, on closer inspection, self-corrected leans and adequate reaction wood were evident.

This spruce has quite a lean, but look at the crown architecture.  If the stem was not in the picture the tree would look perfectly up right.

Reaction wood in the structural roots, compensating for the lean.


Another view of 'beefy' roots holding the tree up.