OAK TREE UPDATE (Re: Question, Oak Tree)

Don Staples dstaples at livingston.net
Mon Jul 7 11:11:25 EST 1997


James Adrian van Wyk wrote:
> 
> James Adrian van Wyk wrote:
> >
> > I have a large oak tree, on my property.  It seems to have a problem.
> > The bark and the pithy wood, just under the bark, are coming off
> > (together), the trunk, in long narrow (1-1/2 - 2 in. W) strips, from
> > just above the roots, to far up the trunk.  Where the bark has come off,
> > "timber type" wood is exposed.  Neither the exposed wood, nor the pithy
> > wood and bark show any sign, of insect damage (ie.  bore holes, bore
> > tracks).  It does look like something, going straigt up the tree, went
> > between the wood and the pithy wood & bark, and pushed it up and split
> > it off, without leaving any trace.  The bark is still firmly attached,
> > to the pithy wood, under it (about 1/2 in. thick, total).
> >
> > Can anyone tell me, the following.
> >
> > 1)  What is causing the problem?
> >
> > 2)  Is it likely, to be fatal, to the tree?
> >
> > 3)  What can I do about it?
> >
> > 4)  What can experts do about it?
> >
> > 5)  What sort, of expert?
> >
> > 6)  Cook College, RSU, is about 10 mi., from me; should I querry them?
> >
> > javw
> 
> James Adrian van Wyk wrote:
> >
> > I have a large oak tree, on my property.  It seems to have a problem.
> > The bark and the pithy wood, just under the bark, are coming off
> > (together), the trunk, in long narrow (1-1/2 - 2 in. W) strips, from
> > just above the roots, to far up the trunk.  Where the bark has come off,
> > "timber type" wood is exposed.  Neither the exposed wood, nor the pithy
> > wood and bark show any sign, of insect damage (ie.  bore holes, bore
> > tracks).  It does look like something, going straigt up the tree, went
> > between the wood and the pithy wood & bark, and pushed it up and split
> > it off, without leaving any trace.  The bark is still firmly attached,
> > to the pithy wood, under it (about 1/2 in. thick, total).
> >
> > Can anyone tell me, the following.
> >
> > 1)  What is causing the problem?
> >
> > 2)  Is it likely, to be fatal, to the tree?
> >
> > 3)  What can I do about it?
> >
> > 4)  What can experts do about it?
> >
> > 5)  What sort, of expert?
> >
> > 6)  Cook College, RSU, is about 10 mi., from me; should I querry them?
> >
> > javw
> 
> James Adrian van Wyk wrote:
> >
> > We had no thunderstorms, since it started, and it seems to be
> > progressive, with additional strips coming off.
> >
> > javw
> 
> UPDATE:
> 
> There are 4 strips, of bark, with pithy wood coming off, in 2 sets, of
> 2.  On one side (approx. SSW) one strip is mostly off, from about 20'
> above ground, to about 1' above ground.  The damage may extend higher,
> but I can't tell it, from the ground.  On the opposite side (approx.
> NNE), one strip is beguining, to come off and a strip next , to it, is
> beguining to loosen.  The damage has been progressing, noticably, for
> about 4 - 5 days (since I found the first piece, of bark, on the ground,
> broken off the first strip, to be coming off.
> 
> Contrary, to what I wrote before, there is damage, to the timber wood.
> Now that adjacent strips have come off, it can be seen; it was just
> under the edge, of the second strip.  The wood is damaged, to a depth,
> of about 1/8 inch; the damage is about 1/2 inch wide.  The fibers, of
> the wood have separated, from eachother, but seem otherwise intact.  I
> removed some and they seem, to be still quite strong, in tension.  They
> look normal.  There seems to have been no breakdown, of the celulose.
> What holds the fibers together, in sound wood, seems gone.
> 
> One poster, and several others, via e-mail have suggested lightning.
> One suggested that it could be caused, by residual damage, from past
> lightning.  This seems, to be a possibility, but I see none of the other
> damage I'd expect, from a lightning strike.  There is no discernable
> exit damage, near the roots (unless it is underground).  There seems to
> be no visible damage, to the top, of the tree.  There is no charing, of
> the wood, bark, etc.  I would expect, that the energy release, from a
> lightning strike, to cause some heat decomposition, of the celulose,
> with visible char, if it traveled down between the wood and the bark.  I
> have no experience, with lightning and trees, but I have been, in the
> past, involved with lightning safety engineering, for buildings, and
> other structures.  There are a fair number, of tall trees, in the area
> (much taller than the houses); this oak is one, of them.
> 
> Comments?
> 
> Thanks again.

Lightning damage to trees is generally from the super heating of steam
for tissue moisture.  It litterally explodes when hit from the sudden
increase of volume of steam from water.  The damage may not be noticable
if you arnt at the site every day. And very seldom do you see any sign
of char or other residuals of combustion.

 Lightning shows a perverse habit of not showing the same signes each
hit.  Some trees will have a very short strip showing, while others may
have a stripe from bud to root.  Some trees will have dirt blown away
from the roots as they spread from the tree.  Others will show the
double strike from a bidirectional discharge.  Some hits will show
multiple hits on trees in a clump, with the most I have ever seen is 5
trees from the single strike.

I think it possible on a low voltage hit the wood may just cook, and
eventually peel away as you describe.  From all your comments it is
typically a lighting strike.
-- 
Ego Stroke:  http://www.livingston.net/dstaples/



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