Two years after damage, how is this aspen recovering?

olreaderNovember 2, 2013

On Oct. 25-26, 2011 we got 11.5" of snow overnight in my town near Denver. The trees still had most of their leaves and lots of huge trees and branches came down all over town. We only lost a few small branches at the time but in May 2012 after a rain the top of one of my aspens fell down, hanging on by bark.

I pulled down the broken top, it was about 12 feet long. Then I sawed off a few more inches.

The tree has had two years of growing since then and I don't see any new shoots coming out near the cut, which is one of the problems when trees are topped that I have read about.
I wonder what is going on? Is how the tree has responded good or bad? I think good.
Maybe the branches just below the cut have grown more than they would have.
Maybe the tree is putting all its growth into growing out and isn't growing up?
Or maybe the tree is still recovering and hasn't grown at all? That doesn't seem right.
Or maybe the tree is putting its growth into the other trunks/trees in the clump?

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olreader

Another picture, I can't remember how to post more than one picture at once

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:05PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

It has to do with the side shoots that were already there being thick enough that they assert enough apical dominance, that the tree isn't stimulated to send out new shoots.

if there were literally a stub there, or the lateral branches were considerably smaller than the main stem, it would have, but since the side branches you cut it down too are relatively thick, the tree didn't feel a "need" to send more shoots, per se.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 11:11PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

I would've just cut it back to the side branches and been done with the matter.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:02AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

first pic

dead center ...

from the pruning cut to the new leader.. i see a black line from 1 oclock to 7 oclock ...

IF!!!!!! .... that is included bark.. and i can NOT tell ... then its a future failure ...

last pic ... with it so close to the house... i would probably be done with that tree.. since i would have two more left ... i wonder if its not on the north side of the others.. with the big bow in its trunk ...

it is very hard to tell anything on these pix alone ....

you can only do more than one pic in a post.. if you use a photo service like photo bucket or some such ..

ken

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:14AM
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olreader

When I was raking up leaves yesterday and looked up at the tree I was disappointed because I hadn't seen much growth. But in the photos especially the one from the side it looks like it's growing.

Yes this tree is at the north of the clump of three trunks and yes it's growing at an angle.

It looks like every branch/trunk junction on this tree and the other aspens has that kind of black bark. Maybe this is something normal for aspens (or normal for bad aspens) and it's why they grow up and don't get too wide--the branches break off especially the big ones at the bottom and so the trees have bare trunk with most of the branches and leaves at the top.

Here's a close up of the cut

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 11:17AM
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olreader

Here is the same tree, the lowest set of branches, about 6 ft from the ground. Every branch has the black bark line--the lines look the same as those near the pruning cut to me.The same for the middle set of branches, about 10 ft up, and then comes the top set of branches below the pruning cut above (15 ft up? all just estimates).

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Since aspen is extremely suckerous all of the "trees" in the one grouping are probably trunks of a single individual* with a shared rootstock that they are all coming from, just like a clump of iris - you could probably cut the broken trunk off at the ground and would not be cutting down an actual, separate tree at all. Otherwise at some point in the future the replacement top(s) coming from the side of the existing break may tear loose also, putting you back to having a broken "tree" with part of the top gone. Another consideration is that trees of this nature can be poor about closing and surviving large wounds, possibly over time the trunk below the existing break may just be going to rot out and fail.

*Periodically aspens covering acres make the news when genetic testing reveals the whole stand is one tree with thousands of trunks; a heath family plant native to the southeast US that slowly creeps over a large area during the course of centuries, and expansive honey fungus (Armillaria) colonies have also been recognized and publicized

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 12:50PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Raking...why does man insist on doing this!lol

Mulch them, creates organic matter for your grass and trees. Worms come to the surface and break the clippings down further. They in turn aerate the soil.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:55PM
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gardengal48

Raking...why does man insist on doing this!lol

Leaves left on top of turf grass/lawns will smother the lawn. OK on any planting beds as mulch but any leaves must be chopped up very finely to be of any use on a lawn.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 2:17PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can anyone answer .... as i asked..

whether the black lines of demarcation are included bark .. and what the odds of future failure are.. at the repair????

i am not sure if it is???

and if it is.. what is your suggested remedy ... as to the safety of the tree in the future ...

i think you guys kinda danced around the answer.. w/o clearly answering ...

let me rephrase it ... in ten years.. would you be dancing under it in a wind storm?

the tree .. could probably be cut flush to the ground.. and next season.. reduced to one leader... one twig.. and with no insult to the roots.. be 10 feet tall in two or three years...

is this better than waiting for gravity to take over on a failed repair??? ... or is it .. as Shakespeare said ... much ado about nothing????? ...

ken

ps: anyone else work a Shakespeare reference into a GW reply today.. lol ....

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:10AM
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