Oak trees

stephen fitzgerald stephenf at netspace.net.au
Mon Oct 16 01:56:32 EST 1995


Richard Wagner <dick at rmy.emory.edu> wrote:
>As many of you may know, Atlanta has a fair number of trees here and there around 
>the city. The hurricane "Opal" toppled many trees, and a large proportion of those 
>were oaks. The root masses of these trees, many of which are up to 200 years old, 
>show no sign of a tap root. I am wondering what happened to the tap roots. 
>
>I have dug many smaller trees in the past, and found heavy tap roots extending many 
>feet under the surface. Do these disappear with age? Or is this some kind of root 
>pathology associated with urban life?
>
>Dick Wagner, Atlanta 
>
Dick,
Apparently tap roots are a short lived phenomenom in most trees. They 
eventualy become choked out by the lateral roots and die. Many planted 
trees don't ever have tap roots because they are damage in the nursery or 
if taken from cuttings only ever develop fiberous root systems. Some 
species, particularly in arid areas may have a persistent tap root (I 
can't remeber exactly which species but possibly Mesquite etc.)
For a better explanation read Arboriculture by Richard W. Harris 
(prentice hall 1992)




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