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Signs of an elder elder giving up the ghost?

FireFire Posts: 17,116
edited April 2018 in Problem solving
I inherited an elder tree with a house I bought five yrs ago, about 25 ft tall (the tree, not the house). The surveyor at the time of the sale wrote in his report that he thought the tree was on its last legs, and should come down, but didn't say why he thought this. In the midst of buying flurry I didn't ask him about this fairly small detail. The tree is flowering and fruiting; there is not rot, fungus, holes or disease that I can see. It doesn't wobble and isn't an odd colour. I left it as it's not in a place where it would cause much damage if it fell.

So I'm wondering what an elder in its dotage looks like. The surveyor was super careful, specific and accurate in every aspect of his very detailed analysis of the house and garden  (very usefully), and I would take his assessment seriously. I don't want to take out a perfectly good tree that I really like. Five years later it still looks fine and hasn't changed much, to my eye. I understand elders can live up to 60 years. It is possible that the tree is that old. I don't have an easy way to check that I know of.

Thoughts welcome.


  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 7,938
    I think surveyors are by nature a "super careful" breed - but yours might not be an expert on trees.  Some people don't like them!  (Trees, not surveyors...)

    I'd look out for obvious things like dieback of branches, excessive leaning, leaves getting smaller each year or an odd colour, etc.  It sounds as if you're already doing this anyway.  We had an elder behind our house once, which eventually fell over - but not until more than half of it was clearly dead; it died back a branch at a time.

    If you like it, and it's not going to hit any passers-by if bits fall off it, I'd leave it.  People used to plant them next to their house to keep the devil away...   ;)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Ah, that was my main question. Elders can die back a branch at a time! Thanks
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