It may not be a common occurrence, but we at Whatcom Tree Service have heard of cases where a seemingly healthy tree all of a sudden breaks and falls! What could have been the cause? We know that, while it can be hard to detect, tree rot is a serious problem that can affect many trees. Today, we would like to explain tree rot a little bit more to you so you can understand how to prevent it. If prevention is no longer an option, it might be time to call Bellingham’s tree removal professionals to take care of the problem for you.

How Does Tree Rot Work?

There is a very common fungus that causes rot in the heart of trees. It’s important to note that the “living” part of the tree is actually the tissue that is right underneath the bark. The center of the tree is no longer living. This thin area of living tissue is called the cambium, and it is able to produce xylem and phloem. However, the cells toward the inside of the tree – or the parts that are no longer really living – can no longer produce new cells.

The interesting part of tree rot is that the tree doesn’t necessarily need this inside section to be healthy in order to continue to grow and flourish. The “dead” wood on the inside can rot away, and the tree can remain in great condition as long as the cambium layer isn’t affected. Rot is the result of fungi eating away at organic matter, and it often needs moisture to continue to spread. This is why trees that have had some sort of damage that would allow more moisture to get inside are more susceptible to rot.

You may believe that once a tree starts rotting, it will take over the entire tree; however, this isn’t usually the case. Trees actually have the ability to set up barriers and prevent the rot from spreading to the rest of the tree. It protects itself. Unfortunately, this leaves a weakened place in the tree that may not be strong enough to keep the tree standing under pressure and extreme conditions.

How Can I Tell if my Tree is Rotting?

Since trees can compartmentalize the damage within, it can sometimes take a thorough understanding of trees and a detailed inspection to tell if the tree has been infected with rot. Here are a few symptoms that will indicate that a tree is rotting:

  • Carpenter ants – These ants don’t actually eat wood. Instead, they tend to nest in rotting wood. Keep an eye out for very fine sawdust near the base of the tree surrounded by carpenter ants. This is usually a sure sign that the tree is rotting.
  • Shelf fungi – Rot is typically a product of fungus growing within the tree, and this fungus will usually produce mushrooms. This creates shelf-looking fungi on the tree that may actually be visually appealing. Unfortunately, this usually means that the tree is in trouble.
  • Shade tree decline – If you notice that your tree doesn’t seem to have quite as many leaves as in years past, it may indicate that the inside is suffering from rot.
  • Tree or branch fall – As the ultimate sign of tree rot, a major branch or the tree itself may fall to the ground. When this happens, you will be able to see the rot on the inside of the tree.

How Can I Prevent Tree Rot?

Do your best to keep the tree as healthy as possible! Avoid running into it with your lawn mower or other lawn equipment in order to keep the exterior free of damage. Also, it’s important to maintain proper trimming and pruning techniques when doing maintenance on your tree. Fungus needs moisture in order to grow, so preventing openings on the tree is the best method to keep your tree rot-free. If you are not confident when it comes to properly trimming and pruning your tree, don’t worry! Whatcom Tree Service is here to help you with all of your tree needs, whether they be removal or simple, routine maintenance.

What Can I Do if my Tree is Already Rotting?

Unfortunately, there is no way to heal a tree that is rotting back to its healthy state. However, we may be able to remove some of the rotting parts of the tree. Those trees that have a major amount of rot in the trunk may be unable to be saved, and they often pose a serious safety hazard. If it should come to this, be sure to call the tree removal professionals at Whatcom Tree Service. We can come to your Bellingham home, assess the damage, and let you know what needs to be done in order to protect your property. Call us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you when your tree is rotting.