If the bark from the lower part of trees (elm trees) is
almost completly removed (in this case by animals)to a height of about
8ft, is it possible that the trees will still live? What can be done to
help the trees?
If the tree has been girdled, that is, the bark and cambium layer beneath
it, has been removed completely around the tree, then it will die. If there
is any portion of the bark remaining it may live, but if that remaining is
small it probably will die fairly soon due to general decline. If the
cambium layer has not been destroyed it may recover, but once the bark is
stripped away it is most likely doomed because of the likelihood of invasion
by fungi, insects, etc. A local forester or landscaper might be able to
offer more help if they see it.
Causes of Damage to Tree Trunks
Trees have a thin layer of cells called the cambium that lies just beneath
the bark. The cambium transports water and nutrients to and from the roots
and leaves. It also produces new
wood and bark tissue as plants grow. Anything that damages the bark or the
underlying cambium can weaken trees and make them more vulnerable to
disease and insects.
Sunscald or frost cracking is caused by above-average temperatures in the
winter or early spring. Cracks in the bark and the cambium can occur when
trees are warmed in the day and
rapidly cooled as the sun goes down. Some tree guards protect trees from
this kind of damage by moderating extreme temperatures or reflecting sunlight.
In the winter, when other foods are scarce, voles, mice and rabbits eat the
bark of young trees. Voles, which cause the most damage, frequently girdle
a tree by removing a strip of bark
from around the tree, usually within 30 centimetres of the ground. Girdling
can kill a tree. Some tree guards prevent this kind of damage by blocking
small mammals from trees.
Careless use of lawn mowers, weed trimmers and other equipment can damage
tree trunks. Some guards reduce the risk of this kind of damage by
protecting trees from abrasion and
making them easier to see.
Anthony R. Brach
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Update: June 2012