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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 40, Issue 4 — July 2014

Pruning of Buttress Roots and Stability Changes of Red Maple (Acer rubrum)    (View PDF)

E. Thomas Smiley, Liza Holmes, and Bruce R. Fraedrich

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of buttress root pruning on tree stability and to compare different methods of correlating various root parameters to force levels. Ten plantation-grown Acer rubrum (red maple) trees were pulled to an angle of one degree from vertical with measured force, then roots were individually severed near the trunk and the pull tests were repeated until roots had been pruned from 50% of the circumference. Test trees had 6 to 10 buttress roots. There was a nearly direct linear relation between the number of roots removed and the force applied. When comparing four assessment methods to determine pull force change associated with root pruning, the method that had the greatest amount of variability explained by the regression was the comparison of the cross-sectional area of roots cut to the force. However, relating the percentage of buttress roots cut to the force provided only slightly less accurate information, and was more easily collected prior to tree removal.

Keywords: Acer rubrum; Buttress Roots; Likelihood of Failure; Pull Test; Red Maple; Root Cutting; Root Pruning; Root Stability; Tree Stability; Trenching.

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