Saturday, December 4, 2010

Split Cedar in the Woods

The recent rains seem to have added enough weight to bring down half of this split leader cedar. When two or more tops form in a tree, it’s not unusual for there to be a weakness at the point of divergence. Each year of growth increases the degree of instability until a simple event, like a gentle rain, causes the tree to break.

Cedars that grow in the woods have tall bare trunks, but their tops are quite dense. The top has flattened itself onto the ground and will effectively shade any wildflowers that emerge here next spring. I’ve added this to my list of things to clean up this winter.

At least it fell without hanging up in any of the surrounding trees. It did manage to give itself a bow and a little twist as it wedged itself between the two trees. A cedar branch under tension contains a lot of stored energy and can easily mangle someone who makes a cut in the wrong place. I’ll be sure to study the potential danger points before I cut this guy.

The part that fell didn’t have much support at the join. Just above the break is the area where the two branches grew too closely together to support bark. Above that point, both parts had enough room to grow full trunks. It’s surprising that this narrow slice of living wood was strong enough to support the weight of the tree for this long.

The loss of one trunk has left the tree with branches on only one side. Branches will eventually grow into that void, but they will never be able to form a symmetrical top like the perfect cone displayed by the neighboring tree.


  1. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it....

    Yes, I am sure this one made a big crunch as it came down.

    Love your updates on your property.

  2. Hi Steve...You better be careful when cut that hung up part...Ive gotten a few scares doing that...then I've course I do tend to be a little troublesome!! : }

  3. Hi, Lois. I've been in my yard and heard trees fall in the woods. They do make a lot of noise. After one bad ice storm, I heard so many cracks and crashes that I wondered if there were going to be any trees left.

    grammie g, I just don't see you as being someone who causes any trouble at all.