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Prescriptions for Wounded Trees - Branch Wounds, Trunk Wounds, Root Wounds

Types of Tree Wounds Based on USFS Publication AIB-387


A good tree-care program includes looking for hints of trouble including tree wounds and injury. There are signs and symptoms that indicates tree decay development. They may go unrecognized. Early recognition of these signs and symptoms, followed by proper treatment, can minimize the damage caused by decay.

A tree is considered to be wounded when its bark is broken so that either its inner bark or wood is exposed to the air. Tree wounds are caused by many agents but all tree wounds can be classified into three types, depending on their locations: branch wounds, trunk wounds, and root damage.

1. Tree Branch Wounds

USFS Illustration

All trees lose some branches during their life-time and the wounds from these branch stubs usually heal. But when they heal too slowly or not at all, the tree could be in for serious trouble by developing decay. Poorly healed tree branch stubs are major entry points for microorganisms that can cause decay.

2. Tree Trunk Wounds

USFS Illustration

There are many types of wounds on trunks and most will heal on their own. The good news is, a tree has the amazing ability to seal off or compartmentalize most wounds. Still, when a tree trunk receives a wound, the injury becomes a pathway for disease, insects and decay. This situation might be repeated many times during the life of an individual tree and tree care will promote tree health.

3. Tree Root Wounds

USFS Illustration

Roots are often wounded during the construction of buildings and roadways, patios, and swimming pools, unless measures are taken to prevent root injury. Following construction, soil is sometimes piled on top of these injured roots, so the wounds do not show. Injured roots weaken the foundation of the tree and with time and the advancing decay process, could cause such a tree to eventually blow over in a storm.

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