Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tippy trees.

Some trees lean.  Leaning trees are a natural phenomenon in nature.  While there are many reasons why trees lean, most of the time the reason involves the search for light.  This is called a phototropic growth response.  Trees growing in this manor put on adaptive growth and reaction wood to maintain stability.

Once a tree has grown to a point where there is a clear view of the sky the lean will 'self correct,' and new growth will begin to grow with a more vertical orientation.  At this stage the stem lean should be at its maximum, and if the tree remains structurally sound the angle of the lean should remain constant.

Look carefully at the pictures below.  The picture on the left is a screen shot from Google Street View of a post oak taken in 2011.  The 2nd picture is of the same tree taken in December of 2013.

2011                                                                                       December 2013

Notice the difference in orientation of the lean.  The root collar of this tree is not well exposed.  The homeowner indicated she noticed a change in the lean of the tree in July of 2013, and was aware of at least one 3- to 4-inch diameter root that was severed to install the brick walkway earlier that same year.  After some peripheral probing with a soil knife to about 6-inches deep, no structural roots were detected on the tension side of the lean. 

Could this tree be actively failing, albeit slowly?