Can this oak be saved?

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Jed1124

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I have a huge, probably over 100 year old oak tree on my property. I recently noticed a very large frost crack that is exposing a hollowed out portion of the trunk. I've had 4 tree services come out, 3 of them say the tree needs to come down now and asked for $5k to bring it down. The fourth service appeared much more knowledgeable about this and other trees on my property. His belief is that the tree can be saved, the tree has other similar scars from frost cracks that it has repaired itself. After looking online, I could not find any true professional arborists in my area that could be of help. I guess my question is can the tree be saved? Is there anything I should be doing to help the tree heal? There are some mushrooms growing around the tree, which I know is a bad sign...is there any maintenance I should be doing to help the tree repair itself or make it more healthy?
Like was previously said, it’s a torsion crack not a frost crack.
Tree vitality and structural stability are two very different things.
Grifola frondosa is a slow moving decay pathogen.
What are the targets?
Could the tree be reduced enough to mitigate wind sail and possibly retain it?
To many questions to be answered with only pictures.
 

JimR

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I looked at a torsion cracked tree once. While I was on the phone with a tree company I decided to move my vehicle. Ten minutes later I heard a huge pop and that tree was on the electrical wires in the street. I was waiting for a tree company to come and remove it. This tree was now the power company's problem.
 

ATH

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Yeah... let some guy advertising on Craigslist come cut it down for firewood... what could possibly go wrong?
...
Besides this?
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ken morgan

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That's no decay fungi, those are "hen of the woods", some of the most sought after edible wild mushrooms. They typically grow around oaks (healthy ones too) and come back year after year.

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we have mushrooms that look like these here in japan. they tend to grow on dyeing oak over hear and they are freaking delicious. My wife makes them into Tempura.... those and some fish tempura with a bowl of rice makes a pretty tasty dish. I personally grow shitake (another form of mushroom) on oak logs but they only grow on dead fall that is wet and cold.
 

pdqdl

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When talking to a customer about the balance between saving a tree or cutting it down, I nearly always advise looking at the crown of the tree. If it is a viable tree, the crown will be healthy & green. When decay reaches the point where the crown is dying back, then it is for sure time to go.

Can our homeowner send us a picture of the whole tree? That might very well settle the question.

Let's also get a probe, and poke around a bit inside that crack. A lot more can be known with a firm poke or two in the interior than will be shown with one photo (and inadequate fill flash to see the interior).
 
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When talking to a customer about the balance between saving a tree or cutting it down, I nearly always advise looking at the crown of the tree. If it is a viable tree, the crown will be healthy & green. When decay reaches the point where the crown is dying back, then it is for sure time to go.

Can our homeowner send us a picture of the whole tree? That might very well settle the question.

Let's also get a probe, and poke around a bit inside that crack. A lot more can be known with a firm poke or two in the interior than will be shown with one photo (and inadequate fill flash to see the interior).
I like that idea. A long 1/2" auger bit would make a good probe, and a 1/2" hole can be plugged/sealed just below the cambium and allowed to heal over
 
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we have mushrooms that look like these here in japan. they tend to grow on dyeing oak over hear and they are freaking delicious. My wife makes them into Tempura.... those and some fish tempura with a bowl of rice makes a pretty tasty dish. I personally grow shitake (another form of mushroom) on oak logs but they only grow on dead fall that is wet and cold.

I think you call them maitake in Japan, most delicious!
 

TheJollyLogger

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When talking to a customer about the balance between saving a tree or cutting it down, I nearly always advise looking at the crown of the tree. If it is a viable tree, the crown will be healthy & green. When decay reaches the point where the crown is dying back, then it is for sure time to go.

Can our homeowner send us a picture of the whole tree? That might very well settle the question.

Let's also get a probe, and poke around a bit inside that crack. A lot more can be known with a firm poke or two in the interior than will be shown with one photo (and inadequate fill flash to see the interior).
In his original post he said it was hollow.
 

pdqdl

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Guys: I don't condemn every hollow tree. It is always a balancing act to choose between compromised trunk strength and the customer's desire to keep the tree. If all you do is condemn a tree for having signs of decay, y'er not an arborist, you are a tree removal salesman. In this conversation, the arborist that works with the customer to give him the best match for his wishes is going to close the deal.

Points of consideration:
  • How much of the trunk's diameter is gone? Some trees are infamous for being very hollow and still remaining viable for many years. Silver maples are notorious for being hollow and continuing to thrive. They tend to outgrow their decay. Others... not so much.
  • What is the financial risk of having a tree collapse? Some customers like that tree almost as much as their porch, and much more than the fence out back.
  • How many years does the tree probably have left before it must be condemned? If 15 years, then there is no hurry to remove.
  • Will the tree be much more expensive to remove with the additional decay? (Almost always, especially if there is no access for an aerial device) Nobody likes climbing dead, rotten trees! Still, the customer should be informed.
  • What treatments can be done that will reduce the risk or possibly extend the life of the tree? Cabling and bolting, as well as occasionally some insecticidal treatments will sometimes do wonders.
  • Is crown reduction a viable alternative to removal?
Example: My children's babysitter was bugging me about a hackberry tree in her yard (a long time ago). I told her it was a tree in decline, but there was no immediate cause for concern. I suggested that hackberry trees have a tendency to break off at the base, but that her crown was still healthy, and very unlikely to drop branches on anyone. I pointed out that we should move the swing set, just to be safe, and that the tree was only going to fail during a big blowing storm (probably from the south-west), when all the kids were inside anyway. Otherwise, I said she should get years more out of that tree, and that we would see the crown dying back if it got worse. Furthermore, I suggested the tree would be cheaper to remove if we were only picking it up off the ground. She like the tree, and we decided to leave it alone.

That tree was crashed flat on the ground just one week later. :rolleyes:
As predicted, a big storm from the southwest took it out, the swing set was out of the way, and no one was outside in the yard. And...it was cheaper, 'cause all we had to do was chop it up and put it in the truck.
 

pdqdl

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I like that idea. A long 1/2" auger bit would make a good probe, and a 1/2" hole can be plugged/sealed just below the cambium and allowed to heal over

I was thinking more along the lines of a long rod with a point. Literally, poke around inside the crack to gauge the extent of decay and the size of the hollow. Drilling a tree with a 1/2" bit would be a really large hole for just a core test. I don't have any such equipment, but it sounds too big for the continuing health of a tree to blow 1/2" holes through it.
 
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I was thinking more along the lines of a long rod with a point. Literally, poke around inside the crack to gauge the extent of decay and the size of the hollow. Drilling a tree with a 1/2" bit would be a really large hole for just a core test. I don't have any such equipment, but it sounds too big for the continuing health of a tree to blow 1/2" holes through it.

Taps for sugar maples are about that size, 7/16"
 

JimR

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I looked at a torsion cracked tree once. While I was on the phone with a tree company I decided to move my vehicle. Ten minutes later I heard a huge pop and that tree was on the electrical wires in the street. I was waiting for a tree company to come and remove it. This tree was now the power company's problem.
 

pdqdl

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Taps for sugar maples are about that size, 7/16"

Ahhh, but now I'm going to go arborist on you.

When you drill a hole in a sugar maple, you are just giving it a leak, and don't much care about anything on that tree but it's ability to produce sugar. No sugar water? Firewood!

When you core drill a diseased tree (of any species) to reveal the extent of the known decay inside, you disrupt the compartmentalization that may have been protecting the healthy parts of the tree from the invading decay pathogens. Effectively, you have inoculated the possibly healthy cambium area with the pathogen, and the decay will certainly be accelerated.

If anyone isn't familiar with compartmentalization in trees, read up:

Of course, it probably matters very little whether the drill is 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch. The introduction of pathogens is still assured. But still! A 1/2" hole is bigger than you need to determine where the tree starts going rotten. If it's any consolation, my drill bit for installing 7/16" EHS cables for bracing trees is... You guessed it... 1/2 inch. :dizzy:

Every time I put in a cable brace through a somewhat rotten branch, I know that I am actually accelerating the decay at that point. As you might guess, I don't sell a lot of cabling.
 

Scottie Ash Seed

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This Internally vertical wind stress crack which is natural but not to such extreme extent. Is what makes harvesting already dead ash trees knocked off by emerald ash borer worthless for Milling runs.

Imagine that packaging the Pillsbury Doughboy wraps his Goods in. Similar to a paper towel roll, that cardboard is stiff yet Hollow.

A vigorously growing hollowed-out tree continues to produce a whole new tree on top of last year's tree. The more vigorous the thicker growth ring production.

Now what's the best excuse to retain adventitious trunk shoots? They help thicken secondary trunk tissue.

By measuring circumference end of each spring. One can get a better idea just how thick the hollowed-out trees OD is.

How far back do the rotting organisms lag behind? Commonly it can be three. Luckily looks like you have access to the trunks ID or inner diameter.

If only this was a cottonwood, it could be highly probable hollowed-out trunk has begun producing a thin layer of internal bark with life supplied by new internal roots utilizing trees own internal soil production. This won't be the first time tree perpetually sustains itself similar to prehistoric cottonwoods being the first to recapture acreage after glaciers retreat leaving only beach sand behind.

This unseen internal compartmentalization helps to keep rotting organisms in check. Unfortunately lacking in chemicals to produce petrifying Heart Wood. Depending on still functional but no longer living internal woods percentage of moisture content, and depending if primary structural integration caused by white rot or other...

...Now back to Pillsbury Doughboy. When you wack cylindrical container along a seam. Poof, The swirl will become unraveled.

Similarly your trunk has already unraveled. And regardless if torsion twist, Frost crack, or lightning strike. I have yet to witness 2 halves cleanly zipper themselves up.
 
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