Structural Development of Trees
Richard W. Harris
Abstract: To develop a tree that is structurally strong, it should be trained to exploit the better elements of its branching pattern and growth characteristics. A tree develops a welltapered trunk, better able to distribute stress uniformly along its length, if it is grown with more than one-half of its foliage on branches that originate from the lower two-thirds of the trunk. Branches are attached to the trunk more securely if they are well-spaced vertically along the trunk, are thinner than the trunk where they arise, and have wide angles of attachment. An unstaked tree can move in the wind, resulting in a shorter tree, with larger trunk caliper, greater taper, and a larger root system better able to withstand the elements without support. Stakes and ties detract from tree appearance and can seriously injure the trunk. The angle at which a main branch grows can be directed by pruning to a more upright shoot or by leaving a spreading branch to be more horizontal.