Field Notes: The Wind in the Willows, Oaks, Pines …

March 8, 2018 12:20 pm

Field Notes: The Wind in the Willows, Oaks, Pines …

 DOF Urban Forest Conservationist Jim McGlone

March 2018 came in like a lion, roaring with sustained winds of 25 to 30 miles an hour.  Predictably, trees fell on power lines causing fires that DOF personnel worked hard to put out.  Media reports highlighted the mayhem falling trees caused; but there was another big story that didn’t make headlines: while thousands of trees fell, hundreds of millions of trees did not fall.

Wood is strong and flexible; that is why humans have been building with it for millennia. Trees have not only evolved to withstand strong wind, the wind actually makes them stronger.  Just as lifting weights can cause human muscles to grow, swaying in the wind causes wood to grow.  The alternating compression and tension on cells when a tree sways causes those cells to grow more wood.  This results in the taper at the base of a tree.

Most of the trees that fell during the early March 2018 windstorm did so because they were already dead or dying.  Most people can recognize a dead tree, at least during the growing season.  However, they may not recognize a dying tree.  The pictures show a tree that failed during in the windstorm.  Last year it had leaves on it, but when it blew over it revealed that its root system was rotten.

Kidwell Farmhouse fallen tree 2018

Can you see the root rot in the standing tree?  Look closely at the crown and notice the thinning of the leaves on the edges. To a trained eye, this is a sign of root problems.

Upright Kidwell Farmhouse tree

This is why trees, like pets and people, need to see their health care professionals regularly.  Certified arborists are tree health care professionals.

The real story of the March 2-4, 2018 windstorm is not that trees fell and caused mayhem.  It is that strong healthy trees withstood the wind.  And trees grow strong and healthy when they are properly cared for by professionals.  To find a certified arborist near you visit

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