Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Die back of trees is often due to root problems.

If you don't believe tearing out a root affects a tree, think again. Root damage due to trenching or other construction tasks can cause the top of a tree to decline and die.

Roots are intimately connected to the branches and since a tree has from 4 to 11 major roots, ripping out one of these large roots can result in the eventual death of up to 25% of the branches. The death of affected branches takes time and depends on the amount energy and water stored in the branch and buds.  Several years may elapse between root damage and symptoms of branch decline depending on the type and size of the tree.

Some trees are said to have an interconnecting vascular system but most trees have roots connected to specific branches.  Thus if a root or portion of a root is damaged, the branch to which the root provides water, nutrients and hormones is negatively affected and the branch dies from the tip back. 

Declining branches are more susceptible to infection by internal rot fungi. Conks, bracket fungi and other fungal fruiting bodies may appear on the branch as the branch dies.  These branches are also more susceptible to failure and breaking off the tree.

Encircling roots as they wrap around and strangle the base of the tree, cause the same type of damage but often affect much more of the tree than when a single root is ripped out of the tree. Some times the complete tree will die back from the top due to encircling roots.

Encircling roots are often due to planting too deep.  To learn more about planting depth check out the publication at

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