Simply Science: Caring for ice-covered trees

8:26 PM, Mar 1, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Self-described science geek and Master Arborist, Kent Honl from Rainbow Tree Care can chat about trees all day long. But we specifically asked him about the recent ice and snow storm that has many trees bent over; trees standing 20 feet tall reduced down to 6-foot-tall bushes.

Honl explained the trees ability to bend and yes, eventually spring back, is rooted in its cellular structure. He says the cells of trees divide differently and based on the amount of cellulose in them, they can be rigid or flexible. Birch trees are flexible while oaks are more rigid.

He also points out that the shape of spruce and pine trees allows them to naturally shed the snow. They are made to withstand winter environments and can deal with the problems themselves.

Other trees aren't shaped that way and some lost branches because of the heavy ice and snow accumulations. Removing those branches in the right way will help to keep your tree healthy enough to withstand disease and the next storm.

The rippled area near the crook of a branch is called the "branch collar" and you don't want to cut that off. Prune just below that wrinkled area. Honl explains air reacts with the freshly cut wood in this area to signal the tree to repair itself. Carbohydrates are rushed to the fresh wound to begin the process.

When to prune? Honl says, "The time to prune is when your blade is sharp!"

But always keep safety in mind. Check for power lines and call in an expert when in doubt.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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