Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

Mother Nature’s Moment

 photos by lesley bruce smith

photos by lesley bruce smith

Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

Last week we flipped over from summer to autumn, when we enjoy warm sunny days and cooler nights just perfect for sleeping. As arborists we also begin to notice that the trees that are most under stress are showing us by displaying their fall color a little earlier than all their neighbors.

 Girdling Root on a Red Maple

Girdling Root on a Red Maple

We cannot help but also notice that so many of the Ash trees we have lost from Emerald Ash Borer are being replaced by Maples.  Maples, Maples, Maples...of all different shapes and cultivars. The problem with that is that we are also noticing that the Maples are showing their fall color earlier than almost any other species and it most often has something to do with their roots, or lack thereof. They suffer from girdling roots, where their root structures never get growing out in a spoke like direction away from the tree but instead grow in a circular pattern around the trunk. Which doesn’t hurt them initially, but in years down the road the expanding cylinder of the trunk and the expanding tube of the roots collide and begin to kill one another. The Maples also have been showing issues with root graft incompatibility, shown in the photo.  

 Root graft incompatibility on the base of an Myobe Maple.

Root graft incompatibility on the base of an Myobe Maple.

Root problems are always difficult to diagnose because they are hiding under ground and even more difficult to correct. The one word we will repeat again is diversification. As much as we love the color and diversity of Maples we need to think outside the box when we choose a new tree for our landscape or parkway. Avoid another Maple and diversity, diversity, diversify. Check out our list of Ash tree replacement species and see that nature has a real smorgasbord of trees to choose from.

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