Wondering If Trees Really Grow Only From The Top


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Hi Everyone!
I hope your day is going well & includes fun!

About ten years ago, way in the back of my yard, I planted a seed from a nearby Norway Maple. It's grown nicely. I would like to transplant it to a place of respect when the weather & season are right.

But, I have a curiosity about the spot where the trunk branches into two main branches. I think it is called the 'crotch' of the tree.
Does this joint move up as the tree grows? (Not that I'm young enough to be around to find out) I sometimes read that trees only grow from the top, and such joints stay where they are- about 2 feet from the earth in this case.

Some photos are attached to hopefully fill in where my words fail to communicate.

Thanks for explaining this. It'll fun to watch the tree grow as the years pass.

Enjoy Today!
Paul
 

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All growth is terminal. The ends of last year's growth will be the starting point of this year's growth. That crotch will be at the same distance from the ground, forever. The diameters will increase and that is the problem with "v" crotches: as both branches increase in diameter they push each other away. Over time, that creates stress at that joint, and with just a little help from Mother Nature in the form of ice or snow-load, or high winds, or just heavy growth that increases the leverage upon that joint, will split, either failing completely or as an opening for diseases. Better to eliminate it now. Branches radiating out at a 90° angle are the best branch geometry.

Left to her own devices, Mother Nature eliminates lower branches by shading them with taller branches that grow better because they get better sun exposure. The shaded branches eventually die and fall off. This is referred to as shedding branches, and that's why trees have very few low branches. The taller they get, the fewer low branches they have. The exceptions to that rule are trees that grow branches at that magic 90° angle that are very long, like Beech and some Oaks and other trees that are as wide as they are tall.
 
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Thank You TreeGuy for your excellent explanation. You're a great teacher and I appreciate your advice.

In the second photo (the one with the arrow added), there is a small diameter branch going off to the left and a larger diameter branch going back-and-left from the same starting point. Would I be wise to remove both of those before transplanting the tree?

Thanks Again!
Paul
 
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Those are both good examples of branches that will be shed because they are shaded by bigger brothers getting bigger. Remove them flush to the origin without damaging the origin. There is a ~wrinkly, bunched-up bark at the base of branches that is the bark growing on the surface of the origin (trunk). Don't damage that. It's called the branch collar and is the tissue that will grow over the stub of the removed branch, if and only if, it is not damaged. Cut branches off where they emerge from that bunched-up bark. Usually, the branch is straight and the collar is bunched-up. Do not leave a stub sticking out, it takes a long time to grow the trunk to a diameter large enough to engulf stubs. Stubs are avenues for diseases and pests into the heart of the tree for as long as it takes to grow over. All wood shrinks after it is dead. The very small stub that is left within that branch collar will shrink back into the trunk allowing the branch collar, which is the live bark of the trunk, to grow over the wound protecting the tree from disease and pests. A properly cut branch does not need to be dressed with anything like "wound paint".

You may see a hole in the side of a tree where a branch obviously was before someone cut it off. It looks like the branch was cut off deeper that the trunk. How is that possible? It isn't possible. That's a good example of a branch cut off so close to the trunk that the collar was removed, too. That person thought that they should make the surface as smooth as possible. Killing the leading edge of the collar bark did just the opposite.
 
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Thank You, TreeGuy, for your great explanation. I appreciate the knowledge you shared.

I take walks during the day (I'm an old guy. It's what we do), I've looked at trees and seen what you described as a hole in the trunk where a branch was cut too close. I never knew until you explained it what caused this divot.

If you don't mind, I have attached a photo of a branch. I marked it where I believe you taught it should be cut. Note that I won't be trimming until well after I move it and it is settled in its new home. (Maybe fall for moving & next spring for cutting)

But, it won't get moved until I figure out the brown spots & occasional holes on the leaves. (Photo attached) So far my guess is the tremendous amount of rain we have had since March- followed by hot, hot, hot days. Then rain again. Goofy weather!

Thanks Again for educating me on how trees grow & for explaining the proper way to trim branches & which to trim.
Enjoy Today!
Paul
 

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It's my pleasure to share knowledge of trees. Pass it on! You should cut the branch just a little closer to the trunk. Cut all that is straight, and the stub will be as short as possible so as to be covered by trunk growth ASAP, three or four years. I wouldn't worry about the spots. Everything living is host to something else. Your spots don't look too serious. Tar Spot is common here, you'll see it as big black "sores" on some Maple leaves. It looks terrible, but doesn't harm the tree, long-term. It comes and goes, and your spots may or may not be a small version of that.

We are fortunate to live in an area with lots of trees. I love driving through our green canyons. I know a guy who moved to northwestern Montana where they don't have trees. I can't imagine living there where you can look from horizon to horizon and not see trees. Big sky country, they can have it.
 
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@treeguy please tell me about the re-emergence of branches down the side of mature old trees. which seems to be the (over the hill) opposite side of this conversation. I invited an arborist over and he identified what he called "advantagous growth" where the oak tree was not growing out the top anymore and needed to be taken down before it hurts the house.
 
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Formally, "adventitious" growth is that which grows where the conditions for growth are better than they are at the normal, terminal growth points. If the old Oak had some internal damage on high, whether you can see it or not, that interfered with terminal growth, the juices available go where they can. It's approximately like suckering that takes place when you remove too much wood on a tree and get a water spout. Your Arborist probably saved you some money.
 
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Thanks Tree Guy for your advice & explanations!
Thanks, too, for putting my mind at ease about the spots on the leaves. Actually, my silver maple has them too.

I noticed you are in Detroit. When I was little, we lived on Petosky and Puritan, then in 1960 we moved to Wildemere (off 6 Mile west of Linwood E/Livernois). Our street had a canopy of elm trees so dense one could not see the sky. I loved it! Sadly Dutch Elm took out all the elms in the 70's. But I often notice that my brother's block in the same neighborhood has some great & large trees.

It amazes me that a little seed that I found and planted turned into this tree by eating nothing but water, air and some nutrients. A gift from our Creator, to be sure!

When I was a kid, I used to explore inside the old, abandoned factories & stuff (that as a Detroiter I am sure you're familiar with) and always marveled at how trees could grow inside a building with no apparent source of water or sunlight. Amazing things plants & trees!

I'm with you- They can keep Big Sky.
 

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