Magazine article American Forests

Tree Doctor * Howard Burnett

Magazine article American Forests

Tree Doctor * Howard Burnett

Article excerpt

Befuddled by pruning, lobed leaves, or disease? Send your questions to our experts: Tree Doctor c/o

Q: I just had an old ash deadwooded. Could you tell me its age? I measured 5 1/2 ft.width, 13 ft 4 in. circumference, 60 ft. canopy, and 68 1/2 ft height.

Via e-mail

A: The only way to tell the age of a tree is to count the annual rings. If you have a stump to study, you could do this; otherwise it's a wild guessing game. To hazard a guess, figure how fast this tree grew in its lifetime. In a good growing site, with good soil and plenty of sun and moisture, it might have grown as much as 2 inches or so every 10 years. Using your circumference measurement, the diameter of this tree would be about 51 inches and you could project the age at 250 to 260 years. Remember that this is truly a wild guess. Call it "very old" and let it go at that--unless you can count the rings on the stump.

Q: The roots of a huge tree have come into my father's yard and sprouted. That one tree was fine, but now a whole bunch have sprouted. We hack them down, but they keep growing back. Now the trees are literally taking over the back yard. The trees are so out of control, he wants to sell the house but can't until this is taken care of and he can repair the back yard. Please help!

Marisa Baker

A: First, consult a local horticulturist to identify the tree and get a professional opinion on eradication. Find a good horticulturist by contacting arboretums, better nursery and garden centers, or colleges where botany or horticulture is taught. Park boards or commissions might be another good contact. Check: It describes the Ailanthus tree, which fits your description and can be a real pest. A number of people there attest to the difficulty of ridding an area of this tree; their best advice seems to be either to dig it up or treat each freshly cut stem with strong herbicide.

Q: I'm looking for detailed "planting for dummies" help for cones-to-seeds metasequoia (dawn redwood).

Christopher Hopper

Via e-mail


A: Metasequoia cones ripen in December. Pick cones when the scales naturally begin to open and they'll continue to open in a week or two at room temperature. Opened cones need to be tumbled as some seeds adhere to the cone scales. Seeds can be sown directly on soil and mulched with fine sand. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.