Diagnosing problems in trees requires a combination of knowledge, experience, keen observation, and deductive reasoning. Trees in an urban environment face a wide array of problems that they may not have been genetically predisposed to deal with. The arborists at Blue Ox Tree Service will take the time to investigate your trees and the surrounding environment to provide you with the most accurate information, diagnosis, and recommended solutions. We have included here the most common disorders we encounter here in the Tampa Bay area.
The term “co-dominant stems” is used to describe 2 or more main stems (or “leaders”) that are about the same diameter and emerge from the same location on the main trunk. As the tree grows older, the stems remain similar in size without any single one becoming dominant. Though such stems may look fine to the casual observer, they may actually be very dangerous. Co-dominant stems tend to fail much more often than others especially in storms. Co-dominant stems that form a sharp “V” shape at the base create a structurally unsound union. As the stems expand, they push the bark into each other resulting in what is known as “bark inclusion”. This continually self inflicting wound also results in decay inside the tree which can lead to catastrophic failure.
Mistletoe is an evergreen parasitic plant that grows on a number of tree species here in Florida .After the mistletoe seed germinates, it grows through the bark and into the tree’s water-conducting tissues, where root-like structures called haustoria develop. The haustoria gradually extend up and down within the branch as the mistletoe grows. Mistletoe absorbs both water and mineral nutrients from its host trees. Healthy trees can tolerate a few mistletoe branch infections, but individual branches may be weakened or sometimes killed. Heavily infested trees may be reduced in vigor, stunted, or even killed. The most effective way to control mistletoe and prevent its spread is to prune out infected branches, if possible, as soon as the parasite appears. Using thinning-type pruning cuts, remove infected branches at their point of origin or back to large lateral branches. Severely infested trees should be removed and replaced with less susceptible species to protect surrounding trees.
Lightning is one of nature’s most powerful forces. Lightning can have devastating effects on people, property and trees. Each strike of lightning can reach more than five miles in length, and produce temperatures greater than 50,000 degrees. Trees occupy a particularly susceptible position in the landscape, since they are often the tallest objects. A tree’s biological functions and/or structural integrity are affected by lightning strikes. Along the path of the strike, sap boils, steam is generated and cells explode in the wood, leading to strips of wood and bark peeling or being blown off the tree. Many trees are severely injured internally or below- ground by lightning despite the absence of visible, external symptoms. Lightning or electrical current passes from the trunk of the tree through the roots and dissipates in the ground. Generally, when lightning damage has created hazardous broken branches, corrective pruning should be done. However, waiting two to six months is recommended before doing major and expensive corrective pruning to assess whether the tree will recover. Historic, rare, and specimen trees, especially when they are the center of landscapes or they shade or frame recreational areas, are valuable and can be protected by a properly installed lightning protection system.
Fungi are responsible for the majority of plant diseases, and most trees are susceptible to at least one type of fungi. Symptoms of fungal diseases vary, but fruiting bodies are often present and aid in accurate diagnosis. However, many beneficial fungi exist that play an important role in the natural cycling of nutrients. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic relationships between certain types of fungi and many tree species, aiding in the uptake of water and nutrients. For most fungi to exist, they must receive plenty of moisture and need specific temperatures.
Roots and Soil
Trees and soils are so ecologically interdependent that it is hard to imagine separating them from one another. It has been said that the vast majority of tree decline situations can be attributed to soil stress. Urban soils are often altered in such a way as to become unfavorable for tree growth and development. For example, urban soils often lack an organic layer. The soil may be compacted or crusted and may have a disrupted soil profile, altered drainage, elevated pH, chemical contamination, or subsurface barriers as a result of building foundations, roads or underground utilities. These factors may impact root growth and tree health.