UW-Extension Cooperative Extension
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Contact: Mike Maddox, 608 752-3885
Entry Date: August, 2003
File Under: Horticulture
Watch for hidden hazards in your trees
Madison - A tree can look lush and healthy but still have serious structural problems that can pose hazards, especially in urban areas.
Mike Maddox, University of Wisconsin-Extension horticulture educator in Rock County says the International Society of Aboriculture offers guidelines for recognizing hazardous defects in tress. Here are some things to watch for:
… Regrowth from topping, line clearance or other pruning
… Electrical line adjacent to tree
… Broken or partially attached branch
… Open cavity in trunk or branch
… Dead or dying branches
… Multiple branches arise at one point on the trunk
… Decay and rot in old wounds
… Recent change in grade or soil level, or other construction
… Mushrooms forming from the trunk or at the base of the tree
"Many of these problems can lead to structural failure causing damage to surrounding property," Maddox explained. He recommends that homeowners call a certified arborist to assess the situation and make the necessary corrections or remove the tree.
Most diseases that affect the leaves of trees, such as fungal diseases that make leaves turn yellow and drop early, look bad, but are unlikely to cause long term damage, Maddox said.
"The only time I look at leaves for signs of problems is when I'm looking for symptoms of vascular wilts such as Oak Wilt, Dutch Elm Disease or Verticillium Wilt," he said. A common sign of these diseases is "flagging," a mass of browning or discolored leaves on a branch that stands in stark contrast to the surrounding green canopy. A certified arborist can determine the nature of the problem and recommend appropriate action to take, he said.
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