Years of Overpruning Weakens Idaho Trees
Our recent heavy snowfall in the Treasure Valley has caused a significant amount of damage to trees and individual limbs in trees. The weight of the snow was simply too much for these trees and individual limbs to support. The tree in the photograph here is a bright and shining example of how well intentioned dollars can be spent harming a tree.
Overthinning Trees Leads to Unnatural Growth and “Lion’s Tails”
This scotch pine has a history of over thinning. The interior limbs were removed over and over again throughout the years. This was most likely because the owner(s) of the tree believed something like “its important to let the wind blow through” and probably enjoyed the open airy aesthetic of the canopy when pruned. The problem is that no one recognized the tree was responding to the pruning stimulus by only growing at the tips or limbs left untouched. The result was a unnatural elongation of the limb without a corresponding increase in diameter (which would have taken place if interior limbs were left) and a profuse tufts of thick heavy live needles and cones at the end of limb.
In arboriculture this is what we call a lions tail. You can see clearly on the few lower to mid level limbs why this term is used. The unfortunate result of the lack of good arboricultural advice given to the owner of this tree is that in effect he spent thousands to slowly ruin his own tree.