If Trees Could Complain

Great Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) grow at altitudes of 10,000 feet above sea level

Some amazing trees grow over 4000 years (without complaining?)  Methuselah, the 4700+ year old Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva, can be found in the Bristlecone National Forest.

Imagine the complaining that may be going on among those trees!

But what about your trees, what might they complain about? A mature oak warms to the sun at the crack of dawn: Oh my achin’ roots and limbs?  I’m thirsty, I need a drink.  Undoubtedly, some female tree species states: Does this fruit make me look fat? I feel like I’ve got to shed.   Maybe they all chant: Oh no, I think its my turn to be pruned. Yikes, the chainsaws and weed-wackers and mowers are coming…ouch my root crown has been scraped…bark ripped off my woody roots is painful.eek, I’ve got aphids sucking on my sap and caterpillars chewing on my leaves!  That damn fungus!

Could these be everyday complaints of a tree???  Of course there are the tree holidays. My roots are lovin’ these wet days.  Pour me another inch of rain, let’s party.  These intense winds today sure gave me a great workout.  Hope I don’t break a limb. My annual rings are buff, check them out.

By now you must think I’ve lost my mind. But trees do express themselves by responding to their natural and man-made environment. They tell their story through growth, stress, architecture, color, defects, dieback, bleeding, bulging, leaning, and other indicators.

Giant Sequoia
Giant Sequoias, (Sequoiadendron giganteum) the world's largest trees, grow 160–279 ft high and 20–26 ft in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia is 3,500 years old.

Dr. Claus Mattheck, a German biophysicist, wrote a book called The Body Language of Trees, which talks about interpreting tree architecture and defects and the VTA, (visual tree assessment).  Dr. Jim Downer recently wrote an article on Why Trees Die, which describes how trees outgrow their ability to carry on the processes that keep them alive often the result of man-made impacts.

Trees tell a story about how they grow and how they are affected by the environment.

The answers are not always clear but learning the language provides life long opportunities and challenges for consulting arborists. What do you observe in your trees?  Take photos and let me know.

Some links to check out:
90 second video on Methuselah– click on link, then click on video;
Jim Downer: Why Trees Die
The Body Language of Trees: You tube -150 second video

Got Trees? I can help you!

Treemendously yours, 
Bill Spiewak


1 Comment

  1. Cute one, Bill, back to being the old Spiewacker of years past. Hope you are doing well, for sure better than the Q.agrifolia along 192 between the Carp. HS and the polo grounds. Most of the trees seem to have turned totally brown and are holding onto their browned leaves. I just notice this phenomenon today, not having driven the road in several weeks. The trees in the lower Toro Canyon area seem normal.


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