Archive for February, 2020

House of Lords debate

Friday, February 28th, 2020

“It is important to recognise and make full use of the expertise in tree care provided by organisations such as the Arboricultural Association. It trains and sets standards for tree surgeons, is involved in every aspect of tree planting and maintenance, and has its finger on the pulse of tree health in this country like no other organisation.”

Lord Framlingham

Hear hear!!! We couldn’t have put it better ourselves Lord Framlingham, and other peers, stood up and spoke about the arboriculture of this country in a thoroughly impressive manner on the 13th February – whilst we are saddened that there is the need to have these debates, we are thrilled that there is a growing public awareness of Arboriculture as a science and a service, that people should be taking advice when planting and managing woodlands and individual trees.

Tree ownership can be a costly business, not just the purchasing and planting, but the ongoing maintenance too. We have all experienced the negative aspects of trees, from the sap produced by sycamore aphids to the irritating thorns from a native hawthorn puncturing tyres. However, the right tree in the right place is a joy to behold. Size of course, is always a critical factor. So often with slow growing native trees they are left to grow unhampered by pruning or shaping, and it isn’t until it has well outgrown it’s intended spot that owners (or neighbours) think to manage the tree or hedging which can often be too late.

We think that responsible tree ownership should be on everyone’s minds. Alongside the well publicised environmental campaigns to increase the tree count, there needs to be education about choosing and planting the right tree for your space. Pests and diseases are hugely important in this, and they are not going to disappear. As are the more common irks about size, leaves and light.

So don’t forget money spent getting good advice now can save a lot of money being spent dealing with the consequences of impulsive choices or delayed management in the future.

B for Bacteria is all around us

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms, and when it comes to trees and ecology they can be good and bad just the same as the ones which affect us as humans. And the bacteria doesn’t need to be on the trees such as bacterial canker often found on the prunus species, it can be in the soil or elsewhere. Bacteria in the soil are plentiful around 100 million to 1 billion in a teaspoons worth! Most bacteria in soil are good an are the decomposers of the plant world. Some even decompose pollutants too, but there are also other types including mutualists, these work with the plants doing good such as nitrogen fixing, particularly working well with Alder and Locust trees. Bacteria are so plentiful they probably merit their own blog or two!


Bark can be attractive, or not, bark can be a great way of determining the health of a tree and damage to bark can be a major problem. Choosing trees for their ornamental bark is becoming popular again

Silver birch Betula pendula with their bright stems

Tibetan cherry tree Prunus serrula with the high coppery shine.

But bark is much more than decoration, we use the bark from Cork oak Quercus suber for our wine bottle corks and placements amongst other uses. Other barks are used for rope and spices and even Asprin is derived from the bark of a Willow. For trees however their bark is a often the first to show signs of poor health, from fungal or bacterial diseases to drought or pesticides, the visual appearance of the bark is one of the first checks arboriculturalists make. Damage made by man or nature to the barks surface allows pests and disease in and prevent nutrients reaching the leaves, the phloem layer of tissue just below the bark is responsible for carrying food produced in the leaves by photosynthesis to the root.


Basidiomycotina (Basidiomycetes) is one of the major taxonomic groups of fungi which can have one of three roles in a forest;
• Saprobes – processing of decaying matter
• Pathogens – cause disease
• symbionts – mutually beneficial
understanding the impact of the fungi on a particular tree in a particular settings is complicated, fungi are overwhelmingly the most important pathogens of trees.


Bifurcation is a tree fork in the trunk giving rise to two roughly equal diameter branches. These forks are a common feature of tree crowns. Whilst not necessarily a problem, areas with bifurcation need close inspection due to their higher rate of failure.

Image credit to Wikipedia – Typical wood grain pattern at a mature tree fork, Slater et al.2014[1]


Bolling A term sometimes used to describe pollard heads, particularly when a tree is pollarded repeatedly. The initial point is then referred to as a Bolling.


Bottle-butt Perfect description but be careful if you choose to Google the term. As shown in the image below, bottle-butt is when excess broadening occurs or near the base of a tree, causing a distinct bottle shoulder shape. This can be caused by decay.


Bracing The use of rods or cables to restrain the movement between parts of a tree, more often used for veteran trees, or where public access is required.


• Primary. A first order branch arising from a stem.
• Lateral. A second order branch, subordinate to a primary branch or stem and bearing sub-lateral branches.
• Sub-lateral. A third order branch, subordinate to a lateral or primary branch, or stem and usually bearing only twigs.


Branch bark ridge and branch collar
The bark ridge it a strip of raised bark seen at the top of a join from a branch to a stem.
Branch collar is a visible swelling formed at the base of a branch.

Image credit to Wikipedia – A branch collar on a common oak

Both are important when pruning, so as not to damage the tree.


Brown-rot A type of wood decay in which cellulose is degraded, while lignin is only modified.


Buckling Another sign of stress in the buttress area, similar to bottle-butt, usually caused by compression due to weather or environmental stresses. The adaptive growth gives rise to a ring-like bulge.