Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

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#1)  Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

Postby John Harvey » Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:54 pm

Ok so this August my favorite tree fell down in a storm, it was the tree that got me into big tree hunting and an icon from my childhood. (19'7" CBH, 117' tall, 80' spread) It was an unknown tree, except by the locals and was obviously in its place long before the forest grew up around it near Daretown Lake in NJ, Salem Co. Anyhow when it fell and I looked inside the hollow trunk, I found a very old metal spike inside of it that was used to anchor barbed wire. It was on the edge of a field used for cattle. Could this have caused it to hollow out or was it age alone that hollowed and weakend it? Pics Below.
tulip tree 3.JPG
After the fall
Evil spike
Tulip tree 12.jpg
me n tree 2005
Tulip tree 12.jpg (29.28 KiB) Viewed 4644 times
Tulip tree 5.JPG
Me and the tree 2008
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox
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#2)  Re: Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

Postby eliahd24 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:08 pm

What a whopper of a tree!!  Sad that it fell.  Not sure if the spike really had any significant role in its downfall.
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#3)  Re: Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

Postby jamesrobertsmith » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:14 am

Shit. I know every tree eventually gets sick and dies. But I hate to see the big ones go like that. It sucks.
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#4)  Re: Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

Postby edfrank » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:15 am


A very impressive tree.  It is too bad it fell.  I really don't know if the spike had anything to do with the failure of the trunk or not.  Many, if not most, of the big old trees like this tend to get hollow with age.  When they do fall it looks pretty much like this one spike or not.  Could the spike have introduced a pathogen or encouraged decay at this point and weakened the tree?  Sure.  It certainly didn't help the tree, but the tree might have broken during the storm from the wind with or without the presence of the spike.  I can't really tell where the failure began.  The initial split could simply have propagated up and down the tree and through the area where the spike was located.  It would be my guess, and it is just a guess,  that the failure itself is unrelated to the spike, but that perhaps the path through this portion of the trunk was influenced by damage related to the spike.   I  am hoping some of our arborist members with more experience will comment.  Good question and thanks for posting,

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#5)  Re: Did a metal spike kill my old growth Tulip tree?

Postby Bart Bouricius » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:05 am

Nice big old Tulip, too bad, but my guess is that there are a few factors that contributed to this trees demise.  I do notice that there are a couple of large stubs where branches were improperly pruned.  This often leads to poor healing and rot which tends to help create hollow space in the tree.  I also notice girdling  wires wrapped around the base of the tree and I wonder if other wires not visible may be more deeply embedded in the tree from the past.  Depending on how it was installed, the cable and bolt in the tree could also have contributed to the problem as Tulip trees in particular seem to be especially sensitive to injury to the cambium in my experience.   I hope this is helpful.

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