Frequency and Severity of Trunk Decay in Street Tree
Maples in Four New York Cities
Christopher J. Luley, David J. Nowak, and Eric J. Greenfield
Abstract: A proportional random selection of street tree Norway, silver, and sugar maples, and other species among four diameter classes were surveyed in the U.S.’ New York cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse for decay incidence and severity. Decay was determined by drilling sampled trees with a Resistograph and calculating the ratio of sound wood to radius. Overall, 58.3% of the sampled trees had some amount of decay and incidence was highest in sugar maples and in the largest size class trees. However, decay incidence was high (53.2%) even in the smallest diameter tree size class (30.5–45.7cm (12–18 in). Decay severity was greatest in silver maple and in the largest diameter trees, although only 3.2% of the trees sampled had serious decay. The study shows that decay is common in street trees but is seldom severe. It also suggests that decay becomes established early in the life of street trees but is most severe in larger diameter trees and in trees that compartmentalize decay poorly such as silver maple. The frequency and severity of decay in the cities studied indicates that they need to continue to identify and manage trees with decay.
Keywords: Decay; Resistograph; street trees; maples; hazard trees; carbon loss