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Friday - April 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Survivors of a Cedar Elm thicket thinning.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I thinned a thicket of cedar elm saplings, but a few are now leaning excessively. Will they straighten up over time or should I go ahead and cut them too? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

Cedar elm Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) is a large, oval-rounded tree growing 50-70 ft. high and 40-60 ft. wide. It is a nicely-proportioned, hardy, drought tolerant shade tree for a broad range of soil types.

You didn’t mention the size of the thicket or the height of the saplings, but here is what I think may have happened.

If the thicket was large, the saplings in the center were most likely getting less sunlight than the ones on the periphery of the thicket. As a result of the diminished light, they would elongate more quickly than the outer saplings, but they would be spindly and weak with poorly developed trunks. This growth phenomenon is known as etiolation. The outer saplings  with more light grew normally and were strong enough to support the etiolated plants. With the thinning of the thicket, the etiolated plants lost their support and are now leaning. With the etiolated plants now getting more sunlight, they should resume normal growth and become thicker and stronger. In the mean time, you could provide stakes to support the plants until they have the strength to support themselves.

So don’t cut them down; just wait for them to get used to their new environment.

 

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