Codominance isn’t always a problem, but it can be harmful to the tree’s structure in some cases. If you’ve ever seen a tree with two stems growing out of the trunk, then you’ve seen a codominant tree before. It’s a common problem when trees grow farther apart than they usually grow.
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What Is a Codominant Tree?
A codominant tree is when two or more stems grow from the same trunk in separate directions. A codominant stem doesn’t mean that you don’t have healthy trees. A codominant tree can grow successfully, but this depends on how the branches grow from the trunk.
There are two identifiable shapes to codominant trees, and one is far more structurally sound than the other. A V-shaped stem suggests that the tree is likely to fail, while a U-shaped branch gives the tree a much better chance of survival.
When you see a V-shaped stem, you should be concerned for your tree’s longevity. In these trees, bark will get wedged between the two stems, pushing the two limbs further apart. Eventually, this will cause the branches to crack.
If the two stems join in a U-shaped stem, the tree is more likely to be structurally stable. In this case, the bark isn’t trapped and instead creates a bark ridge, which protects the trunk from decay.
Are Codominant Trees Dangerous?
Depending on the tree’s location, a codominant tree can be a potential hazard. If it’s too close to a building or yard where children play, for example, you should address the problem before anything dangerous happens.
The biggest concern as far as dangers go is falling limbs. The branches aren’t nearly as stable in a codominant tree as an individual tree. A heavy wind coming through could be enough to cause one limb to crack and fall.
Can You Prevent a Codominant Stem?
Structural pruning is the technique used to guide the tree into growing a solid and proper form. It helps if you act sooner rather than later when dealing with codominant trees. That means you should start pruning when a tree is young if it shows signs of growing two stems.
Once a tree matures, it becomes more complicated, requiring more significant pruning cuts, cabling, and other tools. It should come without saying that with that added work comes an added cost, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything for a matured tree. The sooner you start structural pruning, the less it will cost you, in the long run, to keep your tree healthy and growing properly.
Does Structural Pruning Work on Mature Trees?
If you already have a mature tree on your property with a concerning codominant stem, you will want to address it before it becomes a problem. In the case of a V-shaped stem, calling a trusted tree service is usually better than attempting to prune the tree yourself since they can better tell which branch to cut away and which to leave.
In some cases, a structural support system is better than attempting to prune a matured tree. The supports include steel cables or rods installed between the stems. The wires or rods reduce movement, which improves wind resistance to improve the trees’ structural integrity.