health of old elm tree

farmpondJuly 31, 2013

In the photo, you see a large crack in the tree. Where a wider opening appears in the bark (in the red circle), I inserted a tape measure into the crack. It went in about 22 inches. And, you see that the crack line progresses upward and slightly to the right as it approaches the point where the trunk splits.

I am inclined to think this is a sign the tree may split apart during a windstorm and either half or both halves could fall. Any opinions?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i agree with you..

and seeing the house back there..

i would suggest its a prime candidate for removal ... soon!!!!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:11PM
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It may have come to the end of its natural time. You could dig up a few root bits about as thick as a pencil and pot them, right end up. This would give you several young trees that are clones of the old one if you have an attachment to the old tree. Might be time to do that.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:05PM
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You did not say how large the trunk was it looks like it is nearly double the 22'.

I have seen trees with holes clear through the trunk and the tree have been standing for many decades.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 7:18PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

A couple strong cables would help.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:14AM
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The tree has some dead limbs on it.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 12:02PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Dead limbs happen.

Pretty much its location in the yard woukd determine its fate in my yard. If my bedroom, garage, swing set or ANYTHING I cared about was under it the tree would be gone. Out on the back forty you can have some patience.

Oh, and I do not understand cabling. Maybe a good company or those who are good will stand behind their work and promise to pay your insurance deductable if it fails. If not it just seems like a chance for your homeowners company to come by and say "it obviously was a hazard tree, we are not paying for the damage it caused".

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:40PM
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farmpond, your elm is looking much like mine did when we bought this lot to build on in 1998. It had the crack and the few dead limbs. ten years later leafing out seemed a little sparse. A year later more so. In 2010, no leaves at all. Mid summer that year we had it cut down. We were naive enough to think that it wasn't Dutch Elm since the tree had lived more than 90 years. Here is what was revealed when the trunk hit the ground and split open. No doubt about it...Dutch Elm. I would advise take it down.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 1:24PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

That is alot of damp, rotting wood in the cavity. Makes me wonder if pouring some deck treating material in or poly would have slowed things down. Or killed the tree.

I asked my insurance agent about cabling. She said there is a case by case chance of going after the company which cabled it or the homeowner depending on certifications, follow up and if it was a tornadic even or regular storm when it fell.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 3:59PM
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gazania, thanks for that info and the photo. I hadn't even thought about Dutch Elm Disease (DED) but, after reading your post and then doing a little research, DED seems a likely cause for the tree's condition. I suspect the tree would look much like yours if cut down now.

toronado3800, your comments about insurance lead me to think this is an issue we need to delve into further. As far as I know, the agent said nothing to indicate a problem getting coverage in case of future property damage from the tree when my son made a claim for damage to the patio roof in 2009. But, I will bring up this point with my son.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 5:10PM
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saccharum(z9 FL)

Dutch elm disease is a vascular wilt disease - it does cause dieback and death of the tree, but it doesn't directly cause the tree to rot or crack apart like that. That looks like an area of included bark between codominant stems led to a weak area, which tends to split apart. I agree with ken: if that elm is located where it could fall on people or property if it failed, I would remove it ASAP. I'd consider it a hazard tree. I would not mess with trying to cable it.

It's very possible that Gazania's elm did have DED (and yours might now), but that's not what caused the split and rot inside. That's a longhorned beetle larva (family Cerambycidae) in the second pic, most of them colonize dead and dying trees.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 6:55PM
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saccharum, thanks for that info.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 7:21PM
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