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David Humphries

Managing Trees with Decay & Dysfunction

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Cool stuff. What's the local soil type and how did the topography affect the tree?


Cheers, Island



Hello Island, hope you're well


The tree sits on a north facing slope of London clay which is a neutral soil type.

The localalised hydrology is poor due in part to the slope and the top soil is devoid of humus and pretty dry for half of the year.






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Red oak with long time colonisation of the white rot dysfunction and decay of Ganoderma resinaceum.






Over the last 12 years we've been mapping the decay in the trunk via watching the annual fruit body locations, the ongoing buttress development, accustic signature (nylon hammer) and utilising both the earlier Dmp decay microdrill and then the more advanced IML Resi Pd400 to determine the ongoing residual wall strength and proportion.










A neighbouring red oak failed at the base (Laetiporus) in the St Judes storm of a few years back.




The exposure to further wind load from the loss of its neighbour has led us  to eventually start on a phased reduction by removing 2m of the canopy. (Rob and Jack climbing)







Depending on development of epicormic buds (red oak are known for strong epi growth), we intend to continue the reductions to bring the canopy down further in height and volume.

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1 minute ago, Steve Bullman said:

Did the tree that failed have the same decay fungi?

No, as I mentioned above, Laetiporus decay was the only 'known' associate before that tree failed. That tree never had resinaceum fruiting on it before.

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Another red oak with evidence of a basal colonisation (this time) of  Pholiota squarrosa








We've carried out micro-drill readings and sounding with a nylon hammer which indicates that the (now) forming semi autonomous units (root/buttress units) are currently vascular & sound enough to retain the tree.




This one has a very good Potential Roost Feature (PRF) in the trunk.





Canopy has been reduced up to 2m to lessen the wind load on the sail.


Rob Taylor/Dendrophile in the harness
















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Monolithed this sycamore yesterday at an estate we manage.

On the other side of the hedge is a busy A road and a not so busy footpath adjacent. Prevailing wind heads towards the road and the site is very exposed.

The tree had been vandalised around 3 years ago and the bark peeled off the lower trunk on the right hand side. Flammulina velutipes has colonised the dysfunctional trunk with Armillaria sp. also present but the species unknown.


Due to the dysfunctional trunk, the tree has gone into severe decline on the right hand side of the picture and so the decision was made to remove the sail area, although the tree was not a stability risk.

Hopefully the trunk will remain standing for quite a few years to come.  


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