When Bark is About to Bite: The Outward Signs of a Tree That Might Fall
Sometimes, it's obvious when a tree has become hazardous and might be about to fall or cause other dangers. If it's struck by lightning, for example, or gets damaged by strong winds. Maybe it's suffering from some kind of disease or rot that has obvious, unmistakable symptoms.
Other times, the warning signs can be a lot more subtle, and you may have to look more closely to spot them.
In particular, a tree's bark can tell you a lot about its health. Learning to recognise when it's screaming "Danger!" at you means you can act fast to prevent damage to people, pets or property.
These are some of the key things to look out for in a tree's bark.
Sometimes, trees perform a sort of self-pruning and drop a branch or two. In many cases, this causes no harm to the tree's overall health, but this isn't always the case.
Where the branch once grew, the tree can be left with a hole through the bark and into the trunk. Over time, these holes vastly increase the chance of decay, which can quickly spread throughout the trunk and weaken it.
Look carefully for any holes and, if you find any, consult an expert for advice and treatment.
Bark should cover the entire trunk and branches of a tree, and any significant gaps should be ringing alarm bells.
Chunks of missing bark signify disease, rot, or both. They could be revealing a rapidly-weakening trunk that could give way under the weight of the crown.
A tree that suddenly develops peeling bark is likely subject to a disease. This is often an early warning sign of a condition that will later lead to missing sections of bark, but it shouldn't be ignored.
In a lot of cases, this can be treatable, but it may sometimes result in the tree needing to be removed. Bear in mind that some species of tree have naturally peeling bark, so get to know what's normal for your trees.
Mushrooms and other forms of fungus usually grow on dead or dying wood, so you shouldn't find them growing on your tree. If you do, it's likely at an advanced stage of decay.
Look carefully around the base and up the length of the trunk, paying particular attention to any knotholes or gaps in the bark. Fungus comes in many forms and might not always be obvious, so look carefully for anything ranging from small spots to large bracket mushrooms.
Patches of bark that have turned a different colour to the rest are typically signs of various tree diseases. Some of these diseases discolour the inner bark but not the outer, so carefully cut a small piece out and you can inspect for any problems.
For more information or assistance, contact a local residential tree service.