Tree Defies Science - Survives Without Bark!

Kimball, MN

My brother has a few Box Elder trees that he wants to use as firewood. Rather than cut them down, split, and stack them, he used a method of killing the tree while standing. This way it can dry out and he can dice it up later when it's needed and it will already be dry. I think it's called girding maybe? Basically you cut a gap in the bark to prevent it from accessing it's root structure.

We'll it didn't work. He cut a 5 inch gap over a year ago now. Last year, despite the gap, they leaved out and looked like a normal tree all season. This year, same thing. Full canopies of leaves again.

How can this be? A tree shouldn't be able to just keep on living with no access to its roots, should it?

In the photo, not only is the bark removed from the gap, but the chainsaw groves are around half an inch deep also.

Thumbnail by psteichen Thumbnail by psteichen
Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

It can take some time, even years, for trees to die after girdling. Also, watch out for "suckers" sprouting from the roots, which may happen as tree realizes it has been girdled!

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Water and nutrients for the crown go up through the wood. Sugars to supply the roots go down through the inner bark.

Girdling cuts the latter, but not the former. So the crown goes on living, until eventually the roots die of starvation, which as Pistil says can take several years. But it will die eventually.


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