Trees commonly have knots, splits, hollows and even cavities in their trunks or sometimes in tree branches. These features are part of the visual interest trees provide and are produced during growth that follows some sort of injury to the tree. Battle scars you might say, they often result from the tree growing around or over an injury to heal and strengthen the area. But do you need to worry about tree cavities?
The answer is, “It depends.” Trees with cavities are often just as strong as ever, but if the cavity is located near the base of the tree, or if the diameter is too big in relation to the trunk’s girth, they may cause weakness that could result in the tree falling. To be sure that your home and all of its occupants are safe, have any worrisome tree cavities or splits checked out by a tree care professional.
Some tree abnormalities need no special attention. The tree has healed and compensated for the weakness from the injury. Other abnormalities require treatment to ensure the tree’s continued stability and health. Some trees with abnormalities need to be removed for the safety of surrounding property or people.
Tree cavities and hollows are sunken or open areas in a tree that typically occur when the tree has suffered some injury, followed by decay. In some cases, the decay goes too far and the tree is no longer able to survive. However, in most cases, the decay is surrounded by healthy tree tissue that is protected from the decay, and the tree survives, leaving a hollow area or hole.
Some sources estimate that a tree can lose up to 70% of a cross section of wood and still safely support itself. The tree tends to heal itself and the build up of the tree trunk around the wounded area reinforces the stability. If the wood is weak, or other factors exist, such as insects being attracted by the decay and spreading out, the tree could be at risk of falling. A certified arborist or other tree care specialist can assess the risk and advise you if the tree has moderate or significant chance of failing.
If the tree is stable, no treatment is necessary. However, some homeowners choose to have the tree filled, either for aesthetic purposes, to keep young children from playing in the tree, or to keep animals from nesting inside. If you choose to fill the tree, be sure to use a foam filler. Concrete was a common filler in the past, but trees move with the wind and they continue to grow, so the unyielding concrete acts as an irritant that can cause even more damage to the tree.
Sometimes branches fork off from the tree trunk at sharp angles. As the tree matures, the branches get thicker and heavier, and are more prone to breaking off. If the fork occurs in the early formation of the tree, two main tree branches can seem like separate trunks of the tree.
Either way, forks such as this can cause tree branches to break off under pressure. V-shaped forks are the most risky, and should be closely watched if a large tree is near power lines or structures. In many cases, a certified arborist can fortify the connection by cabling and bracing the tree. This service utilizes cable lines and bracing rods to redistribute structural stress and help prevent structural damage.
Stein Tree Service strives to provide excellent service to homeowners in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Our services include tree inspection, tree and plant health care, insect infestation prevention and treatment, tree trimming and pruning, tree removal and cabling or bracing. We are available 24/7 for emergency tree services and we offer free consultations. For information about tree care, visit our website, or contact us at 302-478-3511.
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