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Individual Highlight

Managing Wood Decay in the Urban Forest

Photo of Tree failure resulting in damage to house, Kennebunkport, ME. USDA Forest ServiceTree failure resulting in damage to house, Kennebunkport, ME. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Arborists need tools to help identify patterns of wood decay as part of tree risk analysis and decisions on the proper care of urban and community trees. Forest Service scientists prepared a series of articles to introduce arborists to frequently encountered decay fungi and patterns of decay in common oak and riparian tree species.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Glaeser, Jessie A. 
Research Location : U.S., western states.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 654


Inspection of trees for the presence and extent of decay should be part of any hazard tree analysis in the urban forest. Identification of the fungi responsible for the decay allows prediction of tree performance and informs management decisions. Although trees can contain some amount of decay for many years and continue to contribute to the community landscape, decay can be the basis for tree pruning or removal. Forest Service scientists prepared a series of publications focused on some of the major decay fungi associated with oaks, riparian-associated trees (poplars, box elder, alder, sycamore) and other hardwoods. Articles describe the type of decay, provide descriptions and photographs of fungal fruiting bodies, and discuss the impact of the type of decay on hazard tree analysis. Although targeted towards arborists in the West and Southwest, many of these fungi are ubiquitous throughout North America. The series introduces arborists to the concept of wound-induced discoloration, a condition described as "skeleton decay," through a description and dissection of a unique pattern of decay in eastern redcedar. The series includes recommendations of web resources arborists can use to continue their studies and master the knowledge necessary to prepare accurate hazard analyses.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Kevin T. Smith