What do you think about this tree?

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unclemoustache

My 'stache is bigger than yours.
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Silver maple, pretty sure it’s two trees grown into one.
Everything looks healthy, but that random shrub growing in the crotch can’t be good. No sign of it splitting, but there’s a lot of weight trying to pull them apart.

I thought that perhaps it should be cabled up high- give everything a better chance of surviving future wind storms.

But maybe it’s fine as is.
Your thoughts?


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I think that isn't a maple. The bark looks to me like an elm tree, and the foliage up high does not seem to have opposite branching. The resolution of your picture isn't quite good enough for me to make out any leaves up high in the tree.

My guess is that the unwelcome foliage in the main crotch is just some adventitious growth (a "sucker") that should perhaps be pruned out. The leaves on that little branch look like Siberian elm, too, but might just be new and tiny. The leaves on the ground look a bit large for a Siberian, so I'm guessing that is a Slippery elm ( Ulmus rubra), or possibly a Rock elm (Ulmus thomasii). One large leaf on the ground looks like sycamore or possibly Norway maple, but I didn't see any silver maple leaves piled up, as I would expect to see. It might even be an American elm, but that's looking pretty big and healthy for that species of tree.

I think a good strong cable would be a great idea, regardless of what kind of tree it is, but only if you put it in the top 2/3rds of the tree. There won't be much benefit to cabling that big stuff down low. If you find that the sprout in the crotch is the same species as the tree, then I think your concerns about a decaying crotch should be reduced or eliminated. A good cable system should offer some protection for the next 20 years (or more), and there is no accounting for how weak that structurally flawed crotch might become with time.
 
It does look like an elm.

And it looks like one tree with some seriously included bark and the trunk has split below the crotch.

I wonder though at what kind of a cabling job would be done by someone that doesn't know a silver maple from an elm.
 
Be nice, Del. Plant taxonomy isn't everyone's specialty.
Unc's specialty is trying to track down and identify all those kids every morning (or least what they are up to).

Besides, I suspect he'll consult with us when he gets to that decision, anyway.
 
It looked like a basswood to me at first but the bark is wrong for a basswood. I would have to agree it is some type of elm. I cable would definitely help like pdqld suggested putting it higher up in the tree. I would also consider have an arborist come in an do some canopy thinning to either open some gaps in the canopy to allow wind to cut through the tree so each lead doesnt catch so much wind. Or trim some braches back to the next best branch crotch so the canopy stays more tightly packed. I think a few more gaps would help your tree more in the long run.
Also im sure that tree growing from the crotch where they co-dom is likely not a sucker. There is probably dirt accumulating in there from leaves and sticks falling in and decaying in the tree over time. That would be the ideal because usually the tree itself wont be rotten but you will want to get the little tree and any dirt out that you can so the larger trees can grow over ant gaps.

All in all, id say you have one co-dominate tree that looks to have included bark from the top of the crotch almost all the way down to the base. And in that case those leads are not really connected at all down low, at least not as connected as you would want for a tree this large. Probably have 2 cables installed so you can stabilize the lead facing the driveway the best. Top 2/3 of the tree is best and at least 6 foot spacing vertically if you run 2 cables. Hopefully your tree stands strong for many more years.
 
Unc does tree service. He might be a bit weak on tree identification, but I think he might be the only guy in his small town that is trimming the trees and removing them.

He knows what he is doing, and is a regular participant in the arborist forums. That will be a customer's tree we are looking at.
 
It does look like an elm.

And it looks like one tree with some seriously included bark and the trunk has split below the crotch.

I wonder though at what kind of a cabling job would be done by someone that doesn't know a silver maple from an elm.

Actually I never suggested that I would be doing the cabling.
I’ve never done it, but it doesn’t look like rocket science.
But I certainly wouldn’t do it for a customer on such a tree. If it failed I would be liable.

And tree ID is a tricky thing, especially from the bark only. 30 feet away from this tree are two hackberry trees- one completely covered in the little “booger bark” knobs, and one almost totally devoid of them.
 
Yeah that was kind of mean of me.

It's not like he's that guy who's mother has the Cedars of Lebanon dead and dying in the power lines seeking advice on how to climb using spikes.


Uh, no…. Certainly not…. That wasn’t ne at all. Nope. I wasn’t even there…..



Unc does tree service. He might be a bit weak on tree identification, but I think he might be the only guy in his small town that is trimming the trees and removing them.

He knows what he is doing, and is a regular participant in the arborist forums. That will be a customer's tree we are looking at.


Well, I am not formally trained or certified. I’ve been hired by many, and have removed hundreds of trees, but I will never classify myself with the real pros in the business, and will certainly turn down any job that’s too big or dangerous for me.

And I’m getting better all the time on tree ID!
 
What I know about this would fit in a thimble but isn’t the way to do it (watched a This Old House episode where it was discussed) to drill through each of the 2 branches of trunk and use long eye bolts and cable? Wrapping around trees being problematic for tree health.
 
What I know about this would fit in a thimble but isn’t the way to do it (watched a This Old House episode where it was discussed) to drill through each of the 2 branches of trunk and use long eye bolts and cable? Wrapping around trees being problematic for tree health.


Yup. 👍
 
Well, I am not formally trained or certified.

I'm not either. I am self trained, and never worked for another tree company nor a grounds maintenance company.
I was (past tense) a certified arborist, but I found that the continuing education to maintain the certification was excessively expensive, and it didn't seem to line my pocket with profits, nor my self-worth with a warm fuzzy feeling, either. I know what I know, and I realize there are others that know more. There is a heck of a lot of tree workers out there that know less than me, too.

I think the certified arborist is a good program for the fellows that don't know much, and it certainly requires that you learn some basics. Great for the folks that haven't learned some of the stuff. I was already quite knowledgeable (having learned tons of stuff here at AS), and it was just a case of paying many hundreds of dollars to take an easy test.

I have great respect for those fellows that have qualified for BCMA, however. That's a different game entirely.
 
Actually I never suggested that I would be doing the cabling.
I’ve never done it, but it doesn’t look like rocket science.
But I certainly wouldn’t do it for a customer on such a tree. If it failed I would be liable.

And tree ID is a tricky thing, especially from the bark only. 30 feet away from this tree are two hackberry trees- one completely covered in the little “booger bark” knobs, and one almost totally devoid of them.

I'd say go for it.
  1. Liability for trees that break and fall is rather limited. It is nearly impossible to make a tree "safe". So long as you make your customer understand that you are reducing the risk of total failure, and are doing the cabling to extend the probable life of the tree without actually reducing the danger of the falling tree parts, you haven't much liability.
  2. You are right. Cabling is easy. I like to overbuild my cable systems with some really strong EHS cable and Rigguy wire stops. They are simple and nearly fool proof. Kinda pricey, though. If you decide to go for it, do NOT think you are going to cut EHS cable with bolt cutters. Use a battery operated grinder.
  3. Cabling is a great value for the customer. They love their tree and fear it also. Your pictured tree is a great candidate for a good cable install, unless climbing reveals hidden decay.
  4. I never recommend cabling for a tree in decline. If the crown is dying back, decay at the crotch is visible: cut it down, or wait for it to fall. Cabling is for healthy trees that have a structural defect that will only get worse as the tree grows. So far as I am aware, every tree that I have cabled is still standing tall and proud.
 
Maple, Elm, doesn't matter in the original post. The tree has a known defect in that it has a narrow crotch. A wood union is not formed in between the two stems as they grow in Maple, Elm, Locust, Oak, etc. Is this a weak structure, yes. Will it fail soon, who knows. Will it fail before other trees with a single stem of similar size, yes. Can it survive another 20 years without a cable, probably. Will a cable installed properly take some load off of the weak crotch, yes IMO. Does the tree have value to the owner to have them spend the money to install a cable to mitigate some of the risk is my question that can only be answered by the owner.
 
Ultimately up to the homeowner to weigh out cost of removal vs cost of cabling.
Not certain about ID but would guess Ulmus (Elm) family. Fifty cent words here are codominant apical meristems with a classic included bark union. Wayyyy back when it was 2’ tall 2 main leaders developed. 1 should have been pruned out. But here we are. The stuff growing in the crotch should be removed as it’s just a advantageous seed that found a home.
This tree appears to have been “lions tailed” way to many times or all lower branches removed leaving tuffets of canopy up top. This adds lots of stress loads on branches or main trunks. Bad, bad, bad.
Definitely a candidate for a cable system. IMO only I’d put at least 3 cables or a triangular shape. Using anything other than aircraft grade cable in ANY cable job is a huge mistake. Waste of time and money. Again IMO. I’m not a fan of the cable/wire nuts. They leave a dynamic cable thru the tree. Any movement of the trunk and the cable moves inside of the trunk making it very difficult for the tree to close the wound or drill hole allowing water in over a long period of time. Drill thru, with a slightly smaller drill bit, and use a appropriately sized drop forged eye bolt. NEVER a bent eye. Never. Than use cable and thimbles and cable grips.
Another thing to consider is dynamic vs static loads. Static lower. Dynamic higher.
Really easy tree to access with a appropriate sized lift and easier to have all the toys with vs climbing.
Bunch of work, material and cost for owner vs remove/replace.
IF cabled it would be prudent to have the owner agree to a annual inspection and prune.
Biggest thing here is never ever lions tail prune and identify problems when they are small.
Gooood morning!☕☕☕
 
1 Strand of 5/16” ehs 2/3rd up from the height of the crotch and 3 through rods (1 six inches above the crotch and two below) would be my suggestion to help preserve this tree.
As always pictures only tell part of the story so take it for what it’s worth.
Keep in mind this work should be performed in the dormant season to prevent attracting Elm Bark Beetles and DED.
I would most likely also be recommending a Arbotect fungicide injection in the spring to further prevent DED.
 
I had a similar Ash tree that had three trunks like this one, all joined about 4' up, when it came down I was left with the three trunks approx 12' tall when I dropped that it split where the trunks joined each other through rot that was not detectable before hand, where it stood if that would have split through wind etc as we have had recently it would have caused all sorts of damage. Having the three trunks I think would have acted like more of a catch for rain water than this one.
 
Last year I dropped an enormous cottonwood trunk with a similar "enclosed bark" split trunk. It also fell into separate pieces when it came down. Very large, very heavy! There was little doubt as to whether it should have been taken out.
 
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