From sprouts to split: Options through pruning and care

The Union Newspaper

Have you seen the split oak tree on Highway 49 near Pekolee Drive?

This tree has prompted a lot of questions since it came apart in a storm this winter.

Many oak trees are stump sprouts, growing off an old stump and root system of an oak tree that fell over, was cut down or burned in a fire. A good clue you’re looking at a stump sprout is there are multiple trunks coming from the base. From sprouts to split is the life of a stump sprout tree, and that is what happened to the tree you see there.

After the tree is reduced to a stump and roots, stored energy is used to grow sprouts and the tree is reborn. These new sprouts grow out of the newest outer layer of wood. The inner part of the stump and much of the root system dies of starvation due to lack of flow of nutrients.

The dead tissue then begins the inevitable natural recycling process of decay. The new sprouts grow vigorously and compete with each other for light, as well as attachment to the stump and roots. As the sprouts begin to produce energy, new roots start to grow from the surface and the ends of the remaining root system.

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