As winter sets in, bringing wind and ice storms, we’ll see lots of broken trees. Wind and ice loads can snap limbs and break trees in half. It’s tragic to lose a mature tree that you depend on for shade, and falling limbs can damage your property. Often this damage is preventable. There are two ways to minimize dangerous and destructive splitting.
Most cases of tree splitting are caused by a defect called a “bark-included crotch”. This defect occurs when, instead of a healthy limb attached to the trunk, a tree forms a close crotch. As the tree grows, bark is “included” between the limb and trunk. The limb and trunk are not really attached, since the bark forms a seam down inside the tree. As the tree grows and the limb gets heavier, this hidden weakness becomes more dangerous. The tree may simply split in half by gravity, but usually it’s an ice storm or heavy wind that finally sends the limb crashing down.