Service Summary

Welcome to The Green Man Arboricultural Consultancy

This website supports the consultancy business based in North Wales and which operates throughout the United Kingdom providing a wide range of arboricultural services including: home buyers tree reports, tree condition reports, development site surveys and reports, woodland assessment and management plans and general advice relating to trees.

For further information or to discuss your requirements please contact us on: 01978 821 851/ 07981 912 162 or via

Monday, 24 November 2008

Veteran Oak Pollards

I came across these veteran oak pollards in London. They are several hundred years old and I was delighted to see that when the housing estate had been built around them they had made some effort to provide the trees with a suitable growing environment. It is sadly not sufficient however by comparison with some sites it is generous.

Unfortunately trees often suffer during development despite there being guidelines to afford them, and in particular their root systems, protection. In the next post I will start on tree management and in particular trees in relation to development.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

An Introduction to Tree Biology: How Trees Grow # 1

Understanding how trees grow enables us to better care for them throughout their lives.

Trees do not grow from the bottom up, continuing to push from the bottom of their stems, rather they elongate from their shoot tips and expand around their circumference by generating new cells annually.

The end of every shoot contains an area termed a meristem which develops new growth each year. This new growth is called extension growth. New layers of cells are developed at the end of an existing shoot.

The length of the extension growth in any one year is a result of the trees available energy and therefore can give an indication of the trees health. Extension growth may vary from year to year dependant on available energy however, in a healthy tree would appear uniform from year to year.

This picture (Picture 1 - Extension Growth) shows the extension growth on a Rowan tree (Sorbus commixta 'Embley'). The rings around the shoot at the bottom of the picture are the terminal or apical bud scale scar.

In other words this is where the tree grew to last year and marks the start of this years extension growth. (The terminal bud scale scar is not so obvious on all tree species however on rowan and cherry trees it is particularly easy to observe.)

As this is occurring another meristematic area beneath the bark of existing shoots, branches, and the main stem, develops new growth to provide an annual increase in the width of a tree, and its branches.

Therefore at the same time that the tree is growing taller by production of annual extension growth it is growing wider by production of annual tree rings. These are the rings that can be counted in the cross section of a felled tree from which people calculate tree ages.

When observing a young tree predictions can be made regarding its form in maturity from it’s existing branch structure.

This picture (Picture 2 - Beech Union) of a beech tree shows a co-dominant branch union, where two branches have developed almost at the same time and are therefore of a similar size.

The branches would have started growing with an acute angle between them indicating that in maturity, through the development of annual ring growth around the circumference of each branch, the branches would eventually come into contact with each other.

Tight unions can be structural defects occurring in stems, branches and shoots, and can be susceptible to failure. In the instance of the beech tree, in Picture 2, as the branches continue to develop growth around their circumference they push against each other and the result may be failure of one of the branches or splitting of the union.

The union in this Goat Willow (Picture 3 - Willow Union) has split and although the tree has managed to remain intact the split has progressed down the main stem and the tree is predisposed to failure. (There is another defect associated with tight unions termed included bark which will be discussed at a later date. Not all tight unions develop included bark.)

In a young tree identification of such defects means they can easily be remedied. In the instance of the beech tree (Picture 2) one of the branches could have been removed when the tree was young by means of secatuers resulting in a small wound that would have quickly callused over promoting the remaining branch as the lead stem of the tree.

As you can see it would be extremely difficult to remove one of these branches now and the resultant wound would be much larger and significant in terms of wounding.

Identifying growth and structural defects in young trees and affecting the necessary pruning to remedy them is termed formative pruning.

Formative pruning should be undertaken at the nursery stage. It is something to be aware of when purchasing trees. If formative pruning is undertaken it can negate the requirement for significant and costly tree pruning at a later date or prevent tree or branch failure.

It is important that if you have any concerns regarding the form or condition of your tree/s you seek professional advice from a qualified arboricultural consultant. They usually offer advice for free and will be able to advise you whether further investigation is required and what if any remedial actions you should or can undertake in order to address your concerns.

They will also be able to recommend a good arboricultural contractor to undertake any proposed tree works. Contractors are not all consultants and tree works and tree consultancy should be treated as separate areas of expertise. N.B. Many arboricultural contractors have a good consultancy knowledge however this should not be assumed.

Friday, 23 May 2008

An Introduction to Tree Biology: Roots II

As tree biology seems to be a favourite I have decided to pick things up there with another post about tree roots, such a very vital part of a tree. To view the first post regarding tree roots click here.

We have recently purchased two new trees for our garden. The trees were pot planted however have been in the nursery for some time and as a result the root system had persisted through the drainage holes in the pot and into the surrounding soil and gravel.

We asked an assistant to help us with freeing the trees and she kindly provided secateurs and a strong hand to support the trees while we freed the roots. Her initial response had been to simply pull the trees free however this would have been disastrous and snapped most of the roots off. With a small amount of effort we were able to unearth the existing roots and prune any larger roots that could not be freed.

As previously discussed the finer string like fibrous roots provide water and nutrient uptake, without them the tree struggles to feed itself until new feeder roots can be established. The larger roots in addition to providing anchorage are storage facilities for sugars termed photosynthates produced by means of photosynthesis. These photosynthates are the energy providing material for the tree and are utilised to achieve growth and defense amongst other functions.

Planting should ideally be undertaken within the dormant season i.e. autumn and winter thus allowing trees to recover from transplant shock and begin establishment of their root system within the new area of soil usually moist due to the environmental conditions at this time of year.

Trees can be planted during the spring and summer however will almost undoubtedly require watering to prevent drought stress.

Upon planting, the tree root system should be spread evenly around the planting pit having loosened up the sides of the planting pit walls to allow easier root penetration into the soil. Trees grown in containers often develop what is termed girdled root which occurs when tree roots develop to the extents of their container and as they continue growing begin to circle the container. Any such barrier that a tree encounters in early root development may result in girdled root.

Trees planted with girdled roots can in some cases suffer stem failure later in life as a result of the girdled root exerting pressure against the main stem and vice verse as they put on their annual growth and increase in girth.

The reason that so much care is required when dealing with trees, and such a delicate and complex component as roots, is that trees have a finite amount of energy available to them. If this energy is utilised inappropriately due to unnecessary wounding or other actions the energy already ring fenced for normal annual operations is not available and trees begin to decline.

For example a tree planted carelessly during winter that is required to utilise stored energy for root repair or re-development will have less energy available to produce it's leaves in the spring. As a result the leaves may be undersized and therefore have a smaller surface area to photosynthesise during the summer months. This results is a lesser yield of photosynthates during the summer and the cycle continues.

Similarly if fertiliser or other organic matter is applied to a tree when it is not required the tree will still utilise the available food to it's own detriment. The increased food levels will stimulate growth in excess of normal levels. As every function of a tree uses energy this forced growth takes energy away which is required for another process.

Depleted energy reserves make a tree more at risk from pests and diseases as it is less able to instigate it's defense systems.

If sever drought stress occurs the parts of a tree responsible for photosynthesis can be damaged permanently resulting in a photosynthetic disability for the remainder of that trees life.

Trees can recover from small levels of stress over a period of time however an accumulation of stress can lead to decline and premature death. An excess of stress is termed strain.

It should be noted that trees are very good at looking after themselves without any of our assistance however when we start to place trees in demanding situations such as urban planting there are precautionary measures that can be taken to ensure the best environment for the tree is achieved. Appropriate ground preparation and consideration of a developing root system and it's specific needs is vital.

If you have any questions about this or any other post please feel free to leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer your query.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Trees & Related Ecology

Trees and related ecology is the hot favourite on the tree topic poll at present so I am going to do a post covering the most obvious species associated with trees, birds.

IMG_0431 Cockatoo trying to hide it's nest

Image Credit: Poppy 1812

Birds use trees for food, shelter, nesting, beak cleaning, broad casting their mating calls and probably a few other reasons I have not mentioned here! The bigger the tree the better the habitat.

Trees in urban areas are often reduced in height to address peoples concerns. Common issues are volume of leaf litter, a lack of day light, and to alleviate their fears regarding the safety of tall trees. Trees bend in the wind to distribute the forces acting upon them. This swaying can be extreme and usually causes unwarranted concern.

hanging oropenduala bird nests

Image Credit: Nancifi

It is widely recognised that when urban trees are reduced greatly in height, or in areas where smaller trees replace larger historic planting, an increase in predator birds such as the magpie is seen in conjunction with a reduction in song birds.

The bigger the tree, the greater number and variety of birds.

Blackbird in a Woodpecker nest.

Image Credit: Chuck4Photos

It should be noted that we have many ground vegetation and hedgerow nesting birds in this country, and all birds and their nests are protected by Statute Law in The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

'The Act makes it an offence (with exception to species listed in Schedule 2) to intentionally kill, injure, or take any wild bird or their eggs or nests. Special penalties are available for offences related to birds listed on Schedule 1, for which there are additional offences of disturbing these birds at their nests, or their dependent young. The Secretary of State may also designate Areas of Special Protection (subject to exceptions) to provide further protection to birds. The Act also prohibits certain methods of killing, injuring, or taking birds, restricts the sale and possession of captive bred birds, and sets standards for keeping birds in captivity..

Text Credit: Joint Nature Conservation Commitee

4692 Closer View of Eagle Nest

Image Credit: MeAbbott

Tree works are often disturbed or delayed due to nesting birds however it is part of tree management and there are many ecological concerns in arboriculture.

Just to touch on tree management while I have mentioned the subject, there are several times of year where tree works are problematic, or detrimental to the tree, not all of which coincide with sensitive times for associated ecological species. I will cover this in more detail within tree biology and tree management.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Poll Response

I am delighted that there has been so much interest in the tree poll and will begin posting about topics you have expressed an interest in. I have been thinking about how to approach it and have decided that once a month I will do a post related to the poll.

I will start with the most popular topic, which currently seems to be related ecology, and cover the rest in turn.

Thank you to every one who voted. Arboriculture is my profession, and a passion I am happy to share. More soon!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

The Tallest Tree in the UK......maybe

This is believed to be the tallest tree in the UK although I know it is competition with a similar tree in Wales. This is a Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, and stands at a whopping 65m!

Its the one in the middle! It was a little hard to get a good shot of this tree as it is in a woodland, beside a river!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Tyger Tyger

This tree lost it's leading stem at an early age which stimulated two side shoots to seek 'apical dominance' and replace the lost leading shoot. This tree managed to accomplish this with perfect symmetry.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


santa marĂ­a del tule

I wanted to say thank you to the folk who voted on the poll. I will continue the tree biology posts and also cover more P & D and related ecology. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, this is possibly the biggest tree in the world! It has a 10m stem diameter!The Tule Tree, found in Mexico.

Image Credit: nateinmexico

Saturday, 23 February 2008

An Introduction to Tree Biology: Roots

I find trees amazing. I find all plant life pretty amazing, but trees additionally impress me because they are more complex in order to maintain and eventually dispose of their stature.

I have received a vote on the poll asking for more information on tree biology and am therefore going to do an introduction to trees: their parts and functions.

We begin with tree roots.

(Image Credit: The Arbor Centre)To start I would like to dispel a common myth regarding tree roots. Actually a few myths: conifer tree roots are no more shallow than broadleaf tree roots, a trees’ root system is not a mirror of its’ crown and not all trees have or can maintain a tap root, due to the conditions below ground.

Early morning mist on an old Dying Tree with very matted roots.

(Image Credit: waterloo100)There are several different types of tree root systems however the development of trees’ roots, the same as the development of the tree above ground, is not only driven by its’ genetics but by its’ environmental stimulus; how favourable its’ surroundings above and below ground are.

Tree root systems generally consist of anchorage roots, the larger roots that travel downwards however not usually in excess of 3m, and feeder roots, the finer string like mass of roots that are predominantly found within the top 60cm of the soil where they can successfully access water and nutrients, in an aerobic environment (i.e. with oxygen).

Tree roots have three main functions: they provide water and nutrients via the feeder roots, they provide anchorage therefore aiding stability, and they are used to store food stocks generated during photosynthesis.

Tree root systems are generally mature before the tree and there is a direct relationship between the developed root system and the size and stature of the tree. It is a communication that determines the trees potential if left to natural development.

Loss of or damage to root systems once a tree has begun to mature or reached maturity can be disastrous, and symptoms of root damage are most commonly the development of deadwood, often directly above the area of root damage.

The bottom line with trees, like the rest of nature they are designed to adapt. This tree, either layed as part of a hedge and neglected or failed though damage or disease, appears to have successfully layered. It is expected that the stem on the ground has developed a root system and at some point if required the connection with the main plant could be severed to leave a new specimen.

Glossary of Terms

My good friend Tom Wigley suggested that I do a post of tree terms which I thought was a very good idea. There are many however, a lot of tree terms have lengthy explanations and I am not sure what will be of interest.

I therefore thought I would ask for some feedback from anyone who reads here and is interested in a particular aspect of arboriculture or tree biology.

If there is anything you wish to know please ask and I will be happy to post about it. In the meantime I will try and introduce as many new terms as I can within each post without boring you!

I have posted a poll with different aspects of arboriculture so you may choose what you would like me to cover there if there is a category listed that interests you. If not please feel free to leave me a comment.

There is no connection between this post and the picture. We had the most beautiful sunrise here a few days ago and I wanted to share this image.

Ash Update

I saw an ash tree yesterday with an old branch tear wound that had begun to develop wound wood, therefore occluding or sealing the wound, that looked very similar to the ash puzzler posted previously. I am even more convinced that this is the explanation but will feedback comments from the forum when I have submitted the image.

King Alfreds' Cakes AKA Crampballs

This is one of my favourite fungi. Its' botanical name is Daldinia concentrica, it is a wood degrading fungi that favours ash as a host, and deadwood for its' food source.

This fungus found on a live tree will be growing on deadwood or dysfunctional tissue and indicates the presence of a primary pathogen, or circumstances that have already had a detrimental affect on the tree. The tree is therefore under stress.

Yesterday I visited woodland where many ash trees were felled 2-3 years ago due to poor condition. The woodland is small and situated adjacent to public highway, footpaths and a nursing home, so dealing with hazards was a priority of management.

Most of the ash trees removed appear to have been felled due to structural flaws or infection by the fungus Inonotus hispidus, Ash Heart Rot. (Despite the common name this fungus can be found on other tree species. It is also known as Walnut Heart Rot and Shaggy Bracket.)

The larger sections of the main stem and primary limbs (Primary Limbs - The main structural branches of a tree joined directly to the main stem.)have been sectioned and kept on site as habitat piles and to avoid unnecessary disturbance into a woodland populated densely by badgers.

Since being felled the ash wood has been devoured by Daldinia concentrica and I got many wonderful photos of it old and new.

This fungus releases its spores through tiny holes in the surface. It is termed an ascomycetes as it throws its spores out where as many other fungus, mushrooms and bracket fungi, drop their spores out from the underside of the fruit, termed basidiomycetes.

The more bronzed fruiting bodies are older and becoming dysfunctional, new fruiting bodies will replace them and are black.

Sunday, 17 February 2008


Buttress Exposed

An Ash Puzzler

This one is a bit of a puzzler. This is an ash tree and it appears that an old pruning wound or branch stub has been partially occluded and then severely weathered, although it could be a mutation of the cells, possibly stimulated by bacteria or fungus.

I have never seen anything exactly like this before but have seen similar effects on exposed wood at branch stubs. I am going to put it to the UK Treecare Forum for comment and will let you know what they come up with!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Bats & Trees

Awareness and consideration of ecology is required for effective tree management, particularly in case of bats. Here are 6 facts about bats.

Fact 1:
There are 17 species of bat native to the United Kingdom and they all rely on trees for either roost sites or food sources.

Fact 2:
The most common bat species in the UK are the Pipistrelle spp. You can fit 100 Pipistrelle bats into a 1 pint milk bottle (calculated via mathematical formula not empirical research!)

Mexican Free-tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) inside bridge crevice - 1
Fact 3:
Contrary to common belief bats are not blind; they actually have very good eyesight.

Fact 4:
All bats and bat roosts are protected by law. Disturbance of a bat or bat roost carries a fine of £5000 per bat and could incur a 6 month prison sentence.

Bat cave from Khao Yai Thailand.

Fact 5:
Bats in the UK can live for up to 60 years, and they make up 30% of Britain’s mammal population.

Two bats on hummingbird feeder

Fact 6:
Bats are protected due to their serious decline in recent years, attributed predominantly to a loss of their habitat.

Watch live images from inside a roost of common pipistrelle bats at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall

Image Credits: bflyguys , Isaraguide , Deangeliaz and Citress respectively.

Bat and monkey chilling together

Monday, 4 February 2008

The Weeping Tree

My last post pictured the view from within the canopy of a Weeping Ash, Fraxinus excelsior 'Pendula' for which I received a comment from Tom Wigley.....or Old Wom Tigley (Tom your identity appearing as Wom Tigley really made me do a double take and question my powers of observation!).

It made me think about my picture and wish I'd taken another snap from the outside as you cannot appreciate it's unique weeping habit from this view-port. I am going back to this site soon and will take another picture!

In the meantime I found this awesome picture of a Weeping Beech, posted at a photo share site I have registered with. Image Credit: MD72 at webshots.

Unfortunately there were no Weeping Ash photos but I will remedy that in the Spring, for now I give you Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula'.

weeping european beech 2

And this picture of a smaller tree from a distance: Image Credit Sehauer at Webshots

European Weeping Beech

Thursday, 31 January 2008


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