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Willow Trees

Q.Willow Tree Bark – “When Beavers Attack”

dfelinski added on January 16, 2011 | Answered

I have a 2ft diameter willow tree that has been ‘attacked’ by beavers. They have removed a 2-3ft swath of just the bark around the entire circumference. I have attached burlap around the entire scar, and have encircled the tree with wire fencing. What else can I do to try and ensure this beautiful tree survives?

It sounds as though the tree has been girdled (bark removed all the way around the trunk). A tree cannot survive long without this being corrected. Unfortunately, correcting this can be difficult. This article has directions:

That being said, if this tree is very important, you may want to bring a specialist in to help you with this as they will have a higher success rate.

As for the beavers, the wire mesh should keep them at bay. Be aware though that beavers tend to lay claim to large areas and will eventually damage other trees in that area. If you have other trees near the willow that you wish to protect, you need to cover their trunks with wire mesh as well.

Thanks very much Heather – that was most helpful! And the tree IS a large and stately willow in a very bucolic setting and is definitely worth saving. You are correct, it has been girdled, exposing bare tree for a nearly three foot wide swath around the entire circumference. In case I cannot find a qualified arborist, the linked article you included spoke about collecting “scions” and explains in detail how to attach them. The function is pretty clear, but I cannot figure out exactly what scions are and/or how to go about collecting them (can they be branches from the tree, etc)? Not clear at all so some clarification here would be much appreciated.

You are also correct about their large territory; of the hundred or so trees near the stream that courses through the property, about 255 are actively being ‘attacked’ (with one 7in caliper tree having already been felled). I am busly encircling the remaining tees with wire (dam my neighbor, I say! 😉

Thanks again

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on January 16, 2011

A scion is typically a stretch of bark or a cutting taken from a higher part on the tree. For all intents and purposes, you are performing the tree equivalent of a skin graft. You will be taking parts of the tree it does not need to survive and using it on the damaged area. Typically scions are used for grafting, but here you are using them for damage repair.

As for the beaver issue which sounds like it is extensive, you may want to contact local wildlife specialists, like a Department of Natural Resources (while you can't hunt beaver, the same department that hands out hunting licenses typically also deals with animal relocation). If they are rather close to developed areas, it can pose a threat to the beavers (and your trees!) so they may be willing to relocate the beavers to keep them safe - which will in turn keep your trees safe.

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