Image of wind damage

Trees, being the tallest organisms, are specially adapted to withstand even strong wind events. When well distributed throughout the tree’s crown, wind energy is dissipated by the collective movement of all branches swaying out of synchronization. Long and flexible wood fibers lend amazing flexibility over the length of entire stems and branches, which are quite rigid on shorter scales. As a tree grows, small micro-fractures in the wood caused by light to moderate winds actually result in the strengthening of tissues. But strong winds can be a serious threat to a tree’s structural integrity, especially at weak points such as branch unions, sites of previous injury, decay pockets, and at points where maximum tension/compression occur. In forest situations, proper stocking and injury avoidance are the best practices to avoid future wind damage. For urban and landscape trees, proper pruning and tree care are important to minimize the risk of limb or stem breakage. Some tree species are more susceptible to wind damage because of weaker wood or the tendency to develop included bark. Overstocked stands that have been recently thinned may be more severely damaged.


Nathan Hoover

Forest Health Forester
(615) 289-7373

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