Will This Tree Fail? Recognizing and Mitigating Conditions of Concern in Urban Trees

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Trees are built to withstand the forces they have grown to endure. Given enough time, however, all trees will develop structural defects. Many defects pose negligible risk to the surrounding environment or to the tree itself. On the other end of the spectrum, severe defects can lead to catastrophic failure. While many defects such as large cavities or broken branches are easy to recognize, others can be more subtle.

In this presentation, I will discuss some common and not so common defects found in trees, and why they can be a problem from a biomechanical perspective. We will also explore management practices that can be used to mitigate risk caused by these problems.

Jake Miesbauer headshot

Dr. Jake Miesbauer

Jason “Jake” Miesbauer, PhD is an Arboriculture Scientist at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. His research focuses on tree pruning, tree biomechanics, and tree risk management. He earned his Bachelor of Science degrees in Urban Forestry and Business Administration from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a PhD in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Florida.

Prior to pursuing a career as a scientist, Jake spent several years in the tree care profession as a practicing arborist, gaining insight and experience that continues to drive and inform his research. He is a Past-President of the Illinois Arborist Association, and currently serves as Secretary and Treasurer for the Arboriculture Research and Education Academy (AREA). 

The Morton Arboretum