Assessment of the Load-Bearing Capacity of Bark-Included Junctions in Crataegus monogyna Jacq. in the Presence and Absence of Natural Braces
Dean Meadows and Duncan Slater
Abstract: Bark-included junctions are frequently encountered defects within the aerial structures of trees. The presence of included bark within a branch junction can substantially reduce the junction’s factor of safety. Recent research has found naturally occurring bracing to be a primary cause of the formation of included bark within branch junctions. This study tested the load-bearing capacity of branch junctions in hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.) using rupture tests and compared the mechanical performance of “control” branch junctions, bark-included junctions with the natural bracing retained, and bark-included junctions where we had intentionally removed their natural braces by cutting them out. Substantial variability was observed in the failure kinematics of bark-included branch junctions when their natural braces were retained. The type of natural brace present affected the mode of failure of the branch junctions when pulled apart. A single specimen with fused branches presented the strongest form of natural brace in this study, followed by entwining branches, whereas crossing branches were found to provide the least mechanical resistance. This study provides initial evidence that the type of associated natural brace is an important consideration when an arborist is trying to assess the likely mechanical performance of a bark-included junction within a tree and its likelihood of failure.
Keywords: Assessment of the Load-Bearing Capacity of Bark-Included Junctions in Crataegus monogyna Jacq. in the Presence and Absence of Natural Braces