Branch sinuosity in old trees

General discussions of forests and trees that do not focus on a specific species or specific location.

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#1)  Branch sinuosity in old trees

Postby Bosque » Sun May 14, 2017 10:36 pm

Why do the branches of some species of old trees twist?

Thanks,
Carol Diamond
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#2)  Re: Branch sinuosity in old trees

Postby RayA » Mon May 15, 2017 7:42 am

Hi Carol,

  The "gnarly", sinuous look of old tree limbs can be caused by repeated breakage due to storms, wind, ice/snow loads, etc, over long periods of time (often centuries). When the end of a branch is broken off, a side bud grows out to become the new branch tip leading growth point; because it's a side bud, the branch growth takes a slight change of direction, at least for a while. Repeated damage eventually creates the gnarly look. Also, when a neighboring tree goes down or is damaged, more light may now reach the limb, causing its growth to orient toward the increased light (again causing sinuosity). Over great lengths of time, ancient trees can often end up with a relatively few thick, twisted limbs, giving the trees that look of antiquity that speaks of time and survival.

In this photo of a grand old black birch, you can see where limbs took a change of direction at the points where branches had broken off and side buds took over.

               
                       
Black Birch.jpg
                       
Old Black Birch
               
               

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#3)  Re: Branch sinuosity in old trees

Postby Bosque » Mon May 15, 2017 6:17 pm

Thanks, Ray, for taking the time to explain this phenomenon.

Carol
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