Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Preemptory strike on eucalypti

Trees pose threat in Coronado's Spreckels Park

Eucalyptus leaves
Eucalyptus leaves

Today, December 15, the city was set to begin removing three Coronado eucalyptus trees, longtime residents of Spreckels Park. An assessment by the city’s arborist found the sweet-scented trees, which are similar in size and age as one that shed a seven-ton limb in October, pose a public risk.

Several species of the Australian natives, imported in the 1850s, now flourish throughout the state. Popular in parks, the trees have led to property damage, injuries, and deaths. Their “widow maker” nickname was earned long ago.

By October 12 this year, the University of California’s Tree Failure Report program had received 5800 statewide accounts of trunk breaks, branch breaks, and uprooting. Among the four tree types most often involved were eucalyptus.

Many other incidents went unreported, like the October 15 crash-landing of the eucalyptus limb in Spreckels Park, which the city’s arborist, Mike Palat, attributed to “sudden branch drop.” Signs of decay were found, and the tree, considered likely to fail in the next two years, was destroyed. A reassessment of the trees now being removed found them weakened as well.

Is drought the cause behind the rash of falling branches?

“I don’t think that drought affected the trees too much since they are located in an irrigated park,” said Palat. El Niño wasn’t a factor in the decision-making, either. “The assessment was based on normal, seasonal weather conditions,” he said.

One sugar gum eucalyptus, with its large limbs stretched over the playground, was too weak to spare. Past topping of the tree has led to decay and fast growth, and no apparent way to reduce risks. A second sugar gum, on another corner of the playground, has a limb that appears to be dying, sprouting fungal fruiting bodies at its base. The likelihood of its failure in the next two years was also deemed “probable.”

The third tree is a red box eucalyptus near the park’s restroom. It was included due to a recent limb loss; a regular occurrence despite pruning, according to city documents. One break was mid-branch, “which could not be predicted or explained.” Since that particular variety of eucalyptus is uncommon in Southern California, “there is scant information as to the failure profile in the region.”

Which is exactly why the Tree Failure Report program was started in 1987. Understanding why, when, and where urban trees topple is the goal. Arborists statewide are encouraged to submit reports, which get entered into a database to build “failure profiles” for different trees that may one day help prevent the problems.

“Our hardest job is trying to convince arborists to document the failures they encounter,” says Katherine Jones, the program’s database manager. She admits it hasn’t been a banner year for reporting, with far fewer contributions than usual. “We’re working on getting an app,” she said.

In the 1980s a child was crushed to death by a eucalyptus tree at the San Diego Zoo, which then began replacing them with sturdier varieties like oaks. In 2011, a Newport Beach woman was killed by a falling blue gum eucalyptus while driving. Another driver fatality occurred in March 2014, in Solano County.

Eucalyptus trees are known to lose branches in the summer or tip over without warning. The blue gum, which grows very large and heavy, is considered especially prone to surprise drops.

“This happens when temperatures are high, with no wind or precipitation, and no obvious structural defects are noted,” Jones said. “Summer failures are less common for many species, but in the case of blue gum it’s about equal.” Winter failures often go with stormy weather.

But the causes of limb failure aren’t always obvious, even in parched California where 12 million trees died over the past year from lack of water, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Herbicides used to kill the understory and crowding by neighboring trees also leave their marks, for example. One problem can lead to another, weakening trees, making it harder to learn why they fail.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Praga: Italian at a Czech restaurant in Mexico

Not many pedestrians. No mariachis. And definitely no striped zebra-donkeys.
Next Article

Is Midway the new Soccer City?

Fresh chapter unfolds in San Diego's well-lobbied Sports Arena muddle
Eucalyptus leaves
Eucalyptus leaves

Today, December 15, the city was set to begin removing three Coronado eucalyptus trees, longtime residents of Spreckels Park. An assessment by the city’s arborist found the sweet-scented trees, which are similar in size and age as one that shed a seven-ton limb in October, pose a public risk.

Several species of the Australian natives, imported in the 1850s, now flourish throughout the state. Popular in parks, the trees have led to property damage, injuries, and deaths. Their “widow maker” nickname was earned long ago.

By October 12 this year, the University of California’s Tree Failure Report program had received 5800 statewide accounts of trunk breaks, branch breaks, and uprooting. Among the four tree types most often involved were eucalyptus.

Many other incidents went unreported, like the October 15 crash-landing of the eucalyptus limb in Spreckels Park, which the city’s arborist, Mike Palat, attributed to “sudden branch drop.” Signs of decay were found, and the tree, considered likely to fail in the next two years, was destroyed. A reassessment of the trees now being removed found them weakened as well.

Is drought the cause behind the rash of falling branches?

“I don’t think that drought affected the trees too much since they are located in an irrigated park,” said Palat. El Niño wasn’t a factor in the decision-making, either. “The assessment was based on normal, seasonal weather conditions,” he said.

One sugar gum eucalyptus, with its large limbs stretched over the playground, was too weak to spare. Past topping of the tree has led to decay and fast growth, and no apparent way to reduce risks. A second sugar gum, on another corner of the playground, has a limb that appears to be dying, sprouting fungal fruiting bodies at its base. The likelihood of its failure in the next two years was also deemed “probable.”

The third tree is a red box eucalyptus near the park’s restroom. It was included due to a recent limb loss; a regular occurrence despite pruning, according to city documents. One break was mid-branch, “which could not be predicted or explained.” Since that particular variety of eucalyptus is uncommon in Southern California, “there is scant information as to the failure profile in the region.”

Which is exactly why the Tree Failure Report program was started in 1987. Understanding why, when, and where urban trees topple is the goal. Arborists statewide are encouraged to submit reports, which get entered into a database to build “failure profiles” for different trees that may one day help prevent the problems.

“Our hardest job is trying to convince arborists to document the failures they encounter,” says Katherine Jones, the program’s database manager. She admits it hasn’t been a banner year for reporting, with far fewer contributions than usual. “We’re working on getting an app,” she said.

In the 1980s a child was crushed to death by a eucalyptus tree at the San Diego Zoo, which then began replacing them with sturdier varieties like oaks. In 2011, a Newport Beach woman was killed by a falling blue gum eucalyptus while driving. Another driver fatality occurred in March 2014, in Solano County.

Eucalyptus trees are known to lose branches in the summer or tip over without warning. The blue gum, which grows very large and heavy, is considered especially prone to surprise drops.

“This happens when temperatures are high, with no wind or precipitation, and no obvious structural defects are noted,” Jones said. “Summer failures are less common for many species, but in the case of blue gum it’s about equal.” Winter failures often go with stormy weather.

But the causes of limb failure aren’t always obvious, even in parched California where 12 million trees died over the past year from lack of water, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Herbicides used to kill the understory and crowding by neighboring trees also leave their marks, for example. One problem can lead to another, weakening trees, making it harder to learn why they fail.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

John Harris: editor of one of the first English dictionaries

Known as a man of science as a man of faith
Next Article

Mexico after the millenium

Smuggling, TJ nightlife, deported, TJ as hip destination, can't stop thinking about TJ, cross-border kidnapping
Comments
3

Hopefully the same attention is paid to Grape Street dog park, where numerous very large limbs have dropped during the past three years, including during the middle of the day, when the park was experiencing heavy use. Amazing no dogs or people were hurt that time. The most recent destroyed a piece of fence right beside the park entrance. There're a dozen or so Eucalypti at that park, some positioned over picnic tables.

Dec. 15, 2015

You-clipped-us. Guess they were named to be cut down.

Dec. 15, 2015

Eucalyptus trees can be very dangerous if their root system is not fully developed or is near the surface. I love Eucalyptus trees but have had to remove several from my property because they were unstable.

Dec. 16, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close