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  • Writer's pictureAaron Cull

Is Your Tree a Ticking Time Bomb? Here’s What You Need to Know About Tree Trunk Rot

Aaron Cull, ISA Certified Arborist for Evergreen LTD, Inspects trunk rot on a client's tree.

We recently visited a client's home in Calgary for a tree assessment that turned into a critical intervention. The homeowner called us, worried about their decayed tree trunk and pooling water near its roots after heavy rains. They’d noticed significant die-off on the tree and were deeply concerned about the risk of the tree toppling over during Calgary’s sudden windy storms. The fear of it falling onto their house or, worse, injuring their children playing in the yard was all too real.


At Evergreen LTD, we strive to preserve Calgary's trees and recommend removal only as a last resort. However, this tree's condition left us no choice. Aaron Cull, our owner and an ISA Certified Arborist, discovered a cavity in the trunk so large he could fit his entire arm up to the elbow inside it. This tree was a disaster waiting to happen, with the potential to cause catastrophic damage or even death if it fell.



Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

1. Fungal Growth

Mushrooms or Fungal Conks: If you see mushrooms or conks on the trunk or at the base of your tree, it’s a strong indicator of internal decay. These fungi feed on the decaying wood and are visible externally.


2. Bark Issues

Cracked or Peeling Bark: When the bark starts cracking, peeling, or falling off, it could signal underlying rot.

Discoloration: Dark or discolored patches on the bark can indicate a fungal infection.


3. Cavities and Hollows

Visible Cavities: Openings or hollows in the trunk are clear signs of internal decay.

Soft or Spongey Wood: If the wood inside these cavities feels soft or spongey, it indicates advanced rot.


4. Structural Problems

Weakness and Brittle Wood: Rotten wood loses its strength and becomes brittle, increasing the risk of branches or the entire tree falling.

Leaning: A tree that suddenly leans might have a compromised root system or trunk rot.


5. Sap and Fluid Issues

Oozing Sap: Excessive sap flow or a sour smell near the base can be a symptom of decay.

Wet or Waterlogged Areas: Consistently wet areas around the base of the tree might indicate root or trunk rot.


6. Leaf and Branch Decline

Leaf Discoloration and Drop: Premature leaf drop, yellowing, or browning leaves can signal poor health due to internal decay.

Dead Branches: Dead or dying branches, especially in the upper canopy, can indicate systemic rot.


7. Internal Indicators

Sound: Tapping the trunk can sometimes reveal hollow sounds, indicating internal cavities.

Drilling Test: A professional arborist might use a resistograph or increment borer to drill into the trunk and check for decayed wood internally.


Preventative Measures and Management

Proper Tree Care: Regular pruning, watering, and avoiding injuries to the trunk can help prevent rot.

Soil Management: Ensuring proper drainage around the tree base prevents waterlogging and root rot.

Fungicide Treatment: In some cases, fungicides can be used to manage fungal infections.

Professional Assessment: Regular inspections by a certified arborist can help detect and manage trunk rot early.


Monitoring these symptoms can help in early detection and management of trunk rot, potentially saving the tree or preventing hazards from falling branches or trees. At Evergreen LTD, our professional tree care services in Calgary include regular assessments and precise interventions to keep your trees healthy and your property safe.


Don’t wait for a disaster. If you suspect tree trunk rot, contact Evergreen LTD today to schedule a professional tree assessment. Our ISA Certified Arborists in Calgary are here to help you maintain healthy and safe trees. Schedule a consultation now and protect your home and loved ones from the dangers of tree trunk rot.

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