When trees attack!

I’ve been suffering through my post-holiday, post-annual-reporting cold and/or flu, so I don’t feel as witty (or snarky) as I might otherwise be.  Instead, I feel like my body’s been invaded by a slowly spreading mass that reminds me…oh, I don’t know…of what trees can do when they encounter an immovable object.

Not much of a segue, I know, but I just had the urge to post some interesting photos after Holly’s photo-fest yesterday.  (Memo to self: not fun being Holly’s follow-up act.)  Anyway, you’ve seen what happens when growing trees encounter neglected plant tags:

And perhaps you’ve seen how roots laugh at puny planting pits:

So before you feel the urge to attach something – anything – “permanently” to a tree, keep in mind that they have no respect for authority…

…or even those who got them started in life:

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

11 thoughts on “When trees attack!”

  1. Great post, especially for a “post-holiday, post-annual-reporting cold and/or flu” post. And impressive photos too even if you failed to include some of Tolkien’s Ents or at least one depicting the Whomping Willow in order to meet the claims of the post’s scary title. 😉

    On a more serious note, I wonder why the tree (plane tree?) tried to swallow the “no swimming” sign in the first place. Did they cut in the trunk when mounting the sign?

  2. I thought about swiping some tree images…but didn’t want to bring the even scarier copyright police down on my head. It does look like the trunk was shaved where the sign was attached, though I don’t know for sure (Buffalo readers can check it out – it’s at Delaware Park lake.)

  3. People putting things on trees is one of my pet peeves! I have seen what happens when a saw hits a nail or a frying pan that was carelessly left in the fork of a tree. Why do people not realize the damage they can do?
    Question: Do you think that Juniper trees are invasive?

  4. LynnBay: I posted on Holly’s comments but will re-post here regarding invasiveness of junipers: Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is considered invasive in prairie ecosystems. Birds have undoubtedly always dropped seeds onto grasslands from adjacent woodlands, but suppression has increased encroachment of redcedars.

  5. Maybe I should print out some of these photos & tape (not nail !) them to some trees in my neighborhood. Several times under cover of darkness I’ve cut the bands holding 15-year-old trees to their 2″ ‘support’ posts simply
    because the tree was being strangled. How can someone who keeps the surrounding lawn so perfect – as many of my neighbors do – be so blind to the damage they are doing to their trees ?

  6. Laura, you’re a woman after my own heart! I’ve done the same things with a pair of wire clippers. Maybe my next posting will be the “neglected staking chamber of horrors.”

  7. Love the stalkers…. Peple who keep perfect lawns think that posts and wire are what is expected in a good landscape. Lawnies is a differnt breed altogether. …..Eastern red cedar is quite agressive in the Valley. We foresters look at it as one of our native pioneer tree species. Periodic native American burnings probably kept it in check in the native prarrie-like ecosystem thst once occupied this part of Virginia. …. Oh BTW, gotta love the tenacity of trees.

  8. Johannes – I don’t think they had to cut into the trunk, necessarily. The town nailed a No Parking sign to a maple on the street I grew up on, and I’ve watched the tree actually grow around and swallow the sign – even though one would logically assume that the tree would simply push against the sign from behind and eventually cause the nailheads to fail. Clearly the message is “don’t mess with nature.”

  9. My arboriculture lecturer always described the concept of tree growth as: every year, a new tree grows over the old wood. I think these photographs reflect that concept beautifully.

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