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Got Nature? > Posts > Question: Are tree roots wrapped around tree trunk a concern?
June 04
Question: Are tree roots wrapped around tree trunk a concern?

Tree roots wrapped around tree trunks or the lower stem can be very troublesome for tree health and safety.  Stem Girdling Roots (SGR) are very common in Maple trees and can eventually compress the stem so greatly that it creates a situation where the tree can be more prone to windthrow or blowing over.  Additionally, it reduces the flow of water and nutrition to the tree causing a slow decline and eventual death, if not corrected or unable to be treated.
Roots that are not directed away from the trunk causes serious issues and often times there is no good rescue treatment or mitigation of the issue.  If the tree is small, or juvenile and the roots have NOT compressed the stem, careful pruning of the circling roots can be accomplished.  If these circling roots are less than one-third the trunk diameter, and they can be removed without damaging the trunk, then carefully cut and remove them. This will stop the circling habit and allow roots and trunk under the girdling root to develop in the proper way. Some arborists have removed larger girdling roots with no adverse effects on the tree and they often respond to removing girdling roots with increased vigor.  However, roots that have embedded themselves into the trunk or stem should be left alone.   There are no guarantees with this risky process.  Anytime roots are removed there is a danger for reducing stability and health. 
I would suggest contacting an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist to complete the task and insure the best possible results.
For resources on tree care view FNR Extension Publications.
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist, FNR
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