Once you reduce a tree down to a stump, it may seem like that is the end of the tree’s lifespan. However, this is not always the case for stumps. Sometimes, a tree can remain alive – with a little help from its neighbors.
Scientists recently found a kauri stump in New Zealand that is very much still alive. The stump, which is pictured above, was discovered while Sebastian Leuzinger was on a hike. Leuzinger noticed that this tree had live tissue, as opposed to the deadwood of a regular tree stump. Living stumps have been documented since 1833, but this is the first instance of this occurring (that we have found, at least) in the kauri tree (Ed Yong, The Atlantic).
This stump can only be kept alive one way: by exchanging nutrients and water with the trees surrounding it. The exchange of materials between trees is not a new phenomenon, trees have been found to use fungi to transfer nutrients from tree to tree. However, for this kauri stump to stay alive, it most definitely is connected to one or more trees via a root graft. In a root graft, the roots of two or more plants grow together and connect, allowing them to directly share resources without the help of fungi. Up to 150 species of trees are known to form root grafts (Kelly Mayes, Science).
Another thing that makes living stumps remarkable is the anatomy of the tree. How it is set up, the tree can only pull water up from its roots to its canopy. This action occurs as water evaporates off of the leaves, which then pulls up more water to take its place.
“The stump’s water flows at a fifth the speed of its neighbors’, but it does flow. The speed of that flow depends on what the surrounding trees are doing. If the neighbors’ sap flows faster, the stump’s sap flows slower. But if the neighbors reduce transpiration, whether at night or during heavy rain, the stump’s sap starts racing. This suggests that it isn’t just a passive part of its neighbors’ roots. Instead, it seemingly uses their downtime to gain more water” (Ed Yong, The Atlantic).
This is quite a remarkable find. While there is no evidence that all tree species can do this, and root grafting can only occur between two or more compatible species, this still has implications for the tree service business. So if you have a stump in your yard that looks exceptionally alive or that you notice has living tissue rather than exclusively deadwood, you might have a living stump on your hands! A living stump does not pose any danger to your yard if it is left alone, and in fact, damage can occur to the living trees if root separation is attempted.
If you would like to know more about our Stump Grinding services, click here!
Dutch elm disease (DED) is caused by an aggressive fungus (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) that kills elms regardless of their health. It is considered the most costly shade tree disease ever and will remain active in a community as long as there are susceptible trees. The fungus invades the water transporting vessels and produces toxins to which the tree reacts. In defense to the toxins, the tree produces gums and internal growths designed to block the advance of the fungus. The combination of the toxins and the defense mechanisms of the tree inhibit water flow to the crown, which causes wilting and tree death.
How Does Dutch Elm Disease Spread?
Female elm bark beetles lay their eggs beneath the bark of dead and dying elm trees. If the elm is infected with Dutch elm disease the newly hatched beetles will emerge from the tree carrying the deadly fungus on their bodies. The beetles fly to healthy trees and feed on its 2 – 4 year old branches, thereby spreading the disease.
Besides beetle transmission, Dutch elm disease may also be spread through grafted roots. When elms grow in proximity to each other, their roots can come into contact and graft together. This common root system provides the fungus with a pathway to spread through an entire stand of healthy elms very quickly.
What are the Symptoms of DED?
Dutch elm disease symptoms begin to develop 4 – 6 weeks after infection. The first noticeable symptom that results from the fungal occupation of the water-conducting vessels is wilting or “flagging” of one or more branches, usually starting at the branch tip. Leaves on infected branches turn dull green to yellow, curl, and become dry and brittle. As the infection spreads the wood beneath the bark displays brown discoloration.
What Can I do if My Tree is Already Infected?
Most infected elms cannot be saved. In rare cases, if the fungus has not moved into the root system, physically cutting out infected portions of the tree, with a process called tracing, can save the elm.
Sanitation is the most important tool for controlling Dutch elm disease on a community-wide basis. It involves the identification and removal of diseased elms. Such practices eliminate beetle breeding sites and reduce the number of disease-carrying beetles.
Dutch elm disease can pass from infected trees into healthy trees through grafted roots. Macro-infusion of Arbotect does not prevent root graft infections. The only way to reliably prevent root graft transmission of the fungus is to physically sever the common root system.
How Can I Protect my Elm Tree?
The goal when protecting elms from the fungus is to evenly and completely distribute a fungicide chemical thorough the entire canopy of the tree.
To protect a tree from beetle-transmitted fungal infection, Arbotect fungicide must be evenly and completely distributed throughout the 2 – 4 year old branches.
The only way to get even distribution is by the tree injection method called macro-infusion. Macro-infusion injects a large volume of solution into the root flares of the tree. This solution is then transported throughout the canopy providing a protective fungicide barrier.
Arbortect fungicide does not protect elms from root graft infection. You need to physically server the root system from neighboring trees by trenching at least 36″ down.
Below is an article Noel, our owner, recently wrote for TCI Magazine on employee retention through engagement
We all know how hard it is to find good help right now. While hiring great help is a challenge, it’s just the first part of building a great staff. Your company is probably a mix of experienced help, untrained new hires and everything in between. Maybe you are still trying to figure out which members of your team you want to retain and which ones you might need to “release to their destiny.” When do you start to invest in an employee’s long-term future in your company? More importantly, how are you going to retain your best people?
Compensation, security, growth, and management are just a few pieces of the employee-retention puzzle. Another element, and the one I want to focus on most for this article, is engagement. When employees are engaged, it means they are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work. They are more likely to take positive actions to further the organization’s reputation and interests. Engaged employees feel they can make a difference and want to be a part of something larger than just their own position. Engaged employees are happier and more productive and are connected with each other.
Before I lay out some strategies to get your team more engaged, I must confess that I have failed in this endeavor numerous times in my own company. I have a small team of 13 people, and we have a very low turnover rate. Most of my employees have been with me for more than five years. But on several occasions, I have kept a productive employee around who I was not able to engage in our ethos of teamwork and constant improvement. Sure, they could climb a tree and operate machinery, but their unwillingness to buy in and become a part of our team culture led to other crew members not wanting to work with them and a general negative attitude within the ranks. Employee retention cannot be about keeping every employee; it has to be about keeping and engaging the best people and removing the ones who damage your company spirit.
Some of the basic tenets for engaging your employees are:
• Employees who understand their goals and how they relate to the company’s goals are more engaged.
• Employees who receive regular feedback and rewards are more engaged.
• Employees who are given opportunities to grow, learn and advance are more engaged.
I know, I just made it sound so easy. But we all know that none of these are as easy as they sound. I will share a few ways we have found to accomplish these goals in our company, with the disclaimer that what works in our culture may not work in yours. Because we are such a small company, we are able to employ many informal practices that may not be possible in larger companies. Engagement looks different in every company!
When it comes to understanding goals, there are countless ways to accomplish the task. I used to work at a company where each employee’s production was posted on a chart on the wall, where you could see your goals and compare them to others’. It worked there, but I chose a different route for our company because of my concerns that that system might cause more emphasis on competition within the company than teamwork and common goals.
We operate as an “open-book” company, so any employee can see where the money comes from and where it goes at any point in time. This gives all employees a better view of the big picture, and we welcome ideas from all team members on how we can be more efficient and profitable. As the company grows and becomes more profitable, all team members reap the benefits. Last year, every employee in our company received two raises because of their engaged efforts to raise the bar on quality and production.
For number two, feedback and rewards, we are always looking for better ways to let each team member know where he or she stands. To be honest, this practice is a very difficult one to manage in a company of any size. Part of the issue is that some team members really want to have the formal written employee review, while others prefer to just be pulled aside for a conversation about improvement – or a very public, kick-ass high five in front of everyone for their successes. We try to do a combination of both, although it is a struggle to make the time for formal reviews.
One other reward we use in our company is called “F-yeah Friday.” There are many weeks when we all get to the end of the day on Friday and everyone can just feel that we have had a really great week. We all gave 100%, nothing got broken, quality was top-notch and we worked safely. While there is no numeric formula that designates it as an “F-yeah Friday,” it is a feeling of team accomplishment that leads to the occasional unexpected meeting at the end of the day where everyone gets a few hundred dollars of cash from my checking account and a frosty beer while we talk about what our weekend plans are. While I eat the expense personally, it is worth it to provide them immediate feedback and reward for high performance as a team.
Of the three engagement tenets above, I most enjoy giving my crew opportunities to grow, learn and advance. One of our strongest cultural values is personal improvement. We encourage and reward credentialing. Because of the focus we put on certifications, we have two ISA Board Certified Master Arborists and seven more ISA Certified Arborists in a company of 13 people. While it takes time to get the ball rolling, I have found that once you get buy-in from a few, the interest in becoming certified becomes contagious. Another part of our investment in advancement is our company participation in the tree-climbing championship circuit. As a former competitor, I know how the competitions fueled my fire as I grew as an arborist. Now we have a company bus we take to several comps each year (except this year, as all were canceled!), and most of our team either compete or volunteer at the events. After every trip, the climbers on the crew can’t wait to use the new tricks and techniques they learned. The crew members also become emotionally engaged because of their exposure to a much larger view of our industry, instead of seeing only our little corner of the world.
I have many friends in the tree care business who have even better employee-retention rates than our company, and in every case, the reason is that their team is fully engaged and pushing together to be a success. Unfortunately, there is not room in this article to compile all the methods being implemented, but I am excited to have shared a few things that have worked well within our team. I encourage you to think of ways you might look past the usual tools of employee retention, like compensation and benefits. We will almost always find employees who are willing to stay if the money is right, but employees driven solely by income can poison your company’s culture. It is also unfortunate that some good employees will leave your company for personal reasons, even after you have trained them to proficiency. While it is disappointing to see a good employee leave after you have trained them, your company will suffer more if you don’t invest in them and they never go away.
If you would like to read this article on the TCI Magazine website, click here!
All About Trees is caring for Springfield’s urban forest, one tree at a time.
Jumping Oak Gall FOREST HEALTH ALERT From the Missouri Department of Conservation
Tree species affected: White oak (Quercus alba) primarily, and some other white oak group species.
Concerns: Leaves on entire crowns of white oak trees turning brown in late spring. In some areas, whole hillsides appear brown.
Description: High populations of a very tiny, native, stingless wasp (Neuroterus sp.) cause pinhead-size galls (abnormal plant growths) to form on the undersides of leaves. Each round, button -like gall contains one wasp larva. Starting at the margins, brown, scorch-like areas appear on leaves where many galls are present. In more severe cases, leaves curl up, turn black, and drop early from trees. Effects of the damage become noticeable in late spring or early summer and remain visible until fall.
Most galls drop from leaves in early summer. Brown pockmarks remain where galls had been attached. Fallen galls are sometimes observed to “jump” due to vigorous movements of larvae within, much like moth larvae of “Mexican jumping beans.” This behavior allows galls to fall deeper into grass and leaf litter where they are sheltered throughout the coming winter.
Many species of gall wasps have two generations per year. It is assumed that the jumping oak gall wasp in Missouri has a similar life history with one generation lasting only a few weeks in early spring and rarely being noticed. The second generation extends from spring through the following winter and causes most of the leaf damage. Outbreaks typically last for one or two years and then fade away as natural controls reduce gall wasp numbers again.
Similar Leaf Issues: In years with cool wet springs, fungal diseases can be abundant on trees and may also cause leaf browning. Anthracnose is common on white oak foliage in those conditions. Botryosphaeria twig canker causes leaves on infected small branches to wilt and turn brown, which results in “flagging” in the canopy during the summer. Typically, twig bark shrivels and turns brown where the canker occurs, near the junction with healthy tissue.
Recommendations: Galls and fungi that affect oak leaves rarely have a significant impact on tree health. Nearly all trees will recover, even if all leaves are brown. Controls are not warranted. By the time the damage is observed, any opportunity to treat has already passed for that year, and populations are likely to decline naturally. However, severe leaf damage stresses trees, particularly if most leaves on a tree are killed which results in a second flush of leaves emerging in summer. The best tactic is using good tree care practices that reduce stress (mulching, watering during drought, avoiding wounds due to lawnmowers and trimmers).
Questions? Contact your local forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Find contact information for your county and more at mdc.mo.gov.
Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle from Asia that was discovered (in North America) in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage, causing little damage. However, the larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree.
The emerald ash borer most likely arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes arriving from Asia, and has most likely spread by hitchhiking on firewood transported among homes and recreation areas in at least 34 states.
In addition to Missouri, the emerald ash borer has been found in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, as well as, the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec in Canada.
Since its discovery in the US, the emerald ash borer has:
Killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in at least 34 states.
Caused regulatory agencies to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.
Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries millions of dollars.
Take action before removal is your only option! If you have an ash tree, you have the choice to protect or remove your tree(s). We recommend that residents consider protecting large, well-placed, healthy private ash trees as part of an EAB treatment program.
Considerations for Treatment:
Tree size greater than 10” in diameter.
The Tree is not competing with other trees or infrastructure.
The Ash tree shows no more than 30% of canopy decline if an infestation is suspected.
Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) – Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction
Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) is an area where construction activities are prohibited or restricted to prevent injury to preserved trees, especially during pre- construction and construction, and includes the Critical Root Zone and/or beyond.
How Trees Are Damaged During Construction
Physical Injury to Trunk and Crown. Construction equipment can injure the above-ground portion of a tree by breaking branches, tearing the bark, and wounding the trunk. These injuries are permanent and, if extensive, can be fatal. Root Cutting.
Digging, grading, and trenching associated with construction and underground utility installation can be quite damaging to roots. A tree’s root system can extend horizontally a distance 1 to 3 times greater than the height of a tree. It is important to cut as far away from a tree as possible to prevent damage that can compromise tree health and stability. Cutting under a tree’s crown can reduce tree vitality. Cutting roots close to the trunk can severely damage a tree and limit its ability to stay upright in storms. Soil Compaction.
An ideal soil for root growth and development contains about 50 percent pore space for water and air movement. Heavy construction equipment can compact soil and dramatically reduce pore space. Compaction inhibits root growth, limits water penetration, and decreases oxygen needed for root survival. Smothering Roots by Adding Soil.
The majority of fine water-and-mineral-absorbing roots are in the upper 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of soil where oxygen and moisture levels tend to be best suited for growth. Even a few inches of soil piled over the root system to change the grade can smother fine roots and eventually lead to larger root death. Exposure to the Elements.
Trees in a forest grow as a community, protecting each other from the elements. The trees grow tall with long, straight trunks and high canopies. Removing neighboring trees during construction exposes the remaining trees to increased sunlight and wind which may lead to sunscald or breakage of limbs and stems.
Your arborist and builder should work together early in the planning phase of construction. Sometimes small changes in the placement or design of your house or driveway can make a great difference in whether a critical tree will survive. Alternative construction methods can be discussed, such as bridging over the roots as a substitute for a conventional walkway, if flexibility in placement is limited. If utilities cannot be re-routed away from trees, less damaging tunneling and trenching installation techniques exist.
Treatment for construction damage is limited, so it is vital that trees be protected from injury. Set up sturdy fencing around each tree that is to remain, as far out from the tree trunk as possible to provide above- and below-ground protection. Place fence approximately one foot (0.3 m) from the trunk for each inch (2.5 cm) of trunk diameter.
Instruct construction personnel to keep fencing intact and the fenced area clear of building materials, waste, and excess soil. No digging, trenching, or other soil disturbance should be allowed in the fenced area.
If possible, allow only one access route on and off the property. All contractors must be instructed where they are permitted to drive and park their vehicles. Often this same access drive can later serve as the route for utility wires, water lines, or the driveway.
Specify storage areas for equipment, soil, and construction materials. Limit areas for burning (if permitted), cement wash-out pits, and construction work zones. These areas should be located away from protected trees.
Click here to read our article on deer damage to trees, and how to prevent it.